Downer alert: I’m doing more research on health problems associated with excessive screen time and frankly, I’m more concerned now then before I started.
Let’s just talk about the vision problems.
Computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain: burning, dry or watery eyes, redness, double vision, blurred vision, loss of focus, eye twitching, eye fatigue, headaches, neck and shoulder pain.
Unsurprisingly, computer vision syndrome affects 75% of people who work on computers. (Raises hand.) We blink 66% less when staring at a screen for hours.
Myopia or nearsightedness: When staring at a screen your eyes shift into nearsightedness to see clearly, which over time can stretch the shape of your eyeballs as they attempt to maintain constant focus. This can put your eyes at risk for retinal detachment and macular damage.
More studies draw a clear link between screen time, nearsightedness and less time outdoors, where our eyes refocus on objects in the distance and relax.
Good News: Computer Vision Syndrome Isn’t Permanent
Now that I’ve depressed both you and me, here are seven ways to manage computer vision syndrome:
- Take a 20-20-20 mini-break: Every 20 minutes of looking at a screen take a 20 second break to stare at something 20 feet away.
- Get outside: Gaze at the sky and/or something green for 15 minutes after 2 hours of screen time to not only relax your eyes but add to the 120 minutes of rejuvenation time in Nature we need weekly.
- Use a blue light blocker if you spend more than five hours in front of a screen: This could be a combination of a non-glare filter on your monitor or device, night time mode on most devices, software that adjusts a display’s colors to the time of day, or yellow computer glasses.
- Limit your overall screen exposure to eight hours per day if you use a screen for work or two to four hours for recreational use. Spend three to four hours daily away from all screens. (More on this coming.)
- Hydrate your eyes with eye drops frequently throughout the day and get enough omega 3 to help prevent your tear layer from rapid evaporation. Applying a hot compress for 6-8 minutes can ease dry eyes.
- Try blinking exercises: Close your eyes tightly for a few seconds, relax. Repeat 15-20 times. Google [blinking exercises for digital eye strain] for more variations.
- Optimize your work area with low wattage lights, reduce glare from windows and overhead lights, monitor at the optimal distance and all the good ergonomic stuff.
To be truthful, I’m waiting for Apple or Microsoft to reveal a new AI bot that automatically detects digital eye strain, shuts our devices down and tells us to go outside and play. Heehee!
3 Resources for You: Protect Those Baby Blues and Soulful Browns
2 Questions for You: Consider Tweaks to Protect Your Eyes
1st Q: If you work an 8 hour day, how can you get outside 3-4 times during the day to relax your eyes?
2nd Q: What else can you do to care for your eyes?
Me? I am using eye drops throughout the day before my eyes hurt, am wearing the yellow glasses over my prescription glasses with anti-glare lenses, have my monitor dialed in, go outside frequently, replaced the light bulbs and shades on my desk lamps and am a newly converted blinker and distance refocuser.
From Marilyn: (on digital rabbit holes)
Your newsletter is gold. You have stated what I was feeling but had not acknowledged. “Make your online search time all about you, baby.”
Thank you for pointing this out. I can give up this overwhelm.
1 Action for You: Get Yourself to Blink More
One small step to start the change.
How will you get yourself to blink more? Serious stuff. This eye strain is no fun.
Amazingly, studies show that looking at photos of Nature calms your mind, reduces stress and increases concentration. I’m happy to share my view with you!
The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. ~John Muir