Eye Health & Screen Time

Published May 16, 2023

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We all know that spending too much time staring at screens can be bad for our eyesight. But did you know that it can also affect our overall eye health? From blue light radiation to blurry eyesight, it’s no surprise that spending too much time on screens can have an impact on your vision.[1] Too much screen time can contribute to several concerns, including dry eyes, eye strain, and even blurred vision.

Prolonged exposure to blue light emissions has the potential to damage our delicate retinal cells, resulting in compromised vision and distorted images.[2] So, while it might by tempting to log countless hours on our devices, we should be conscientious of how it could be affecting our long-term eye health. By making a few simple changes, you can help keep your eyes and retinas healthy and support your vision.

About Eye Strain

Staring at a screen for eight hours a day can put quite a strain on the eyes. Commonly referred to as “eye strain”, this condition is usually caused by spending too much time in front of digital devices and not taking adequate breaks from them. If you feel like your eyes are tired, dry, or strained after a long day of looking at screens, then you’re likely suffering from eye strain. Since computer screens are made of pixels that produce blurry edges, some research has even suggested that eyestrain may be caused by difficulty focusing on the text and images on them.2

The symptoms of digital eye strain

Digital eye strain is a growing concern in our technology-driven society, and its symptoms can leave us feeling fatigued and uncomfortable. Common signs to look for include:

  • Headaches
  • Sore, itchy or dry eyes
  • Blurred vision, and
  • Neck and shoulder pain.1

With so many of us now staring at screens all day long to work or while attending school, it’s important to be aware of the potential effects on our eyes as well as how to best prevent possible strain.

Tips for decreasing eye strain

If you’re looking for ways to decrease eye discomfort and strain, there are some great tips you can use. Workplace ergonomics are key — make sure your computer monitor is situated an arm’s length away from you, at eye level.[3] Additionally, don’t forget about lighting. Glare on screens is one of the common causes of eyestrain so adjust the setting accordingly by dimming bright lights or using blinds during the day.[4] Finally, take regular breaks away from your device by doing things like stretching and taking a few moments every hour to relax your focus. Following these simple tips will help keep your eyes healthy and save you a headache down the line.

Knowing when your eyes need a break

Knowing when your eyes need a break can be of great benefit. For those who regularly look at digital devices such as phones, tablets, or computers over prolonged periods of time, the risk of eye strain increases.3 To prevent this from happening, it’s recommended to follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes of screen time should be followed by a minimum of 20-second break looking away from the device at something that exists at least 20 feet (at least 6 metres) away from you.4 Making sure your eyes get enough rest and breaks is key — implementing this 20/20/20 rule into your daily habits is a simple way to prioritise your eye health and reduce the impact of digital eye strain.

Minimising the impact of blue light before sleep

Insomnia and sleep difficulties can be exacerbated by exposure to blue light near bedtime. Studies have found that two-hours of exposure to blue light in the evenings supresses melatonin production, the hormone that helps your brain to regulate your sleep and circadian rhythm.[5] To help minimise your impact and get a better, more restful night’s sleep, it is essential to cut out any exposures to blue light as bedtime approaches. This can be done in simple ways such as dimming house lights and avoiding the use of electronic devices with screens like computers and smartphones. Implementing a natural, night time routine can also go a long way toward improving your overall quality of sleep. Relaxation activities such as meditation or hot baths are beneficial pre-bed rituals that reduce the effects of stress which may interfere with normal sleep patterns. For the best slumber possible, ensure that you’re curbing your blue light exposure before you lay down each night.[6]

In our screen-filled world, it’s more important than ever to take care of our vision. Too much time spent staring at screens can lead to digital eye strain, which in turn can cause a host of issues like headaches, neck pain, and trouble sleeping. By giving your eyes a break and minimising the impact of blue light before sleep, you can help minimise the impact of digital eye strain on your health. Alongside these strategies, important antioxidant nutrients Vitamin A and Zinc can also help to support healthy eye function,[7] as well as assist with eye adaptation to variations in light intensity — you’ll find all of these vitamins in Nature’s Own Eye Care.

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[1] Computer Vision Syndrome (Digital Eye Strain). (n.d.). Computer vision syndrome | American Optometric Association. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y

[2] Harvard Health. Electronic Screen Alert: Avoid This Vision Risk — Harvard Health. (2017, August 1). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/electronic-screen-alert-avoid-this-vision-risk

[3] Haupert, Sather, & Wojcik. (n.d.). Computer Vision Syndrome | Cedars-Sinai. Computer Vision Syndrome | Cedars-Sinai. Retrieved from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/computer-vision-syndrome.html

[4] Musillo, S. (2019, January 6). Is Screen Time Really Bad for Our Eyes? | UPMC HealthBeat. UPMC HealthBeat. Retrieved from https://share.upmc.com/2019/01/screen-time/

[5] Tähkämö, L., Partonen, T., & Pesonen, A. K. (2018, October 12). Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm. Chronobiology International, 36(2), 151–170. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2018.1527773

[6] Newsom, & Singh. (2020, November 4). How Blue Light Affects Sleep | Sleep Foundation. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/blue-light

[7] Sissons, & Meacham. (2022, May 23). 4 Essential Vitamins for Eye Health. 4 essential vitamins for eye health. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326758

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