HealthWatch: What Are Screens Doing to Our Eyes and Our Ability to See?

In today’s society, if you’re not sleeping, chances are you’re looking at some type of screen. Whether it’s a computer monitor, a television, a handheld tablet, a GPS or our smartphones, we spend 10-14 hours a day staring at a screen. Many of us are familiar with the problems this can cause, such as headaches, dry eyes, eye muscle strain, and even blurred vision—but few of us know what can be done to correct it.

The easiest thing to do would be to avoid screens as much as possible. However, for those of us who use our cellphones and computers every day for work, it’s impossible to avoid screen-time. So what are our options?

One option is to adjust the brightness on your screen. Dr. Joshua Dunaief, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine also recommends shifting your screen’s color scheme away from blue and toward the yellow end of the spectrum.  While some research has linked too much blue light exposure at night to insomnia, even daytime exposure could be a problem.

Another way to reduce computer vision syndrome (CVS), also referred to as digital eye-strain, is to maintain proper space between your eyes and the screen. Doctors recommend positioning all screens, smartphones included, no closer than 16 inches from your face. Some may find this hard to do—which brings us to the third option.

The best solution is to utilize the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to completely relax, and refocus. It may seem silly at first, but your eyes should feel a lot better at the end of a long day.

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