A lot has changed over the last one year. Among all the other health hazards that COVID brought in, one just sneaked into our system. COVID-19 has made us over dependent on our digital devices. From a five-year-old pre schooler to an 80-year-old man doing breathing exercises for healthy lungs, the source of information is computer screens, phones, television, iPads and tablets. While technology is helping us get through these tough times, our over reliance on these devices for everything may be exposing our eyes to dangers like blurred vision, retinal damage and digital eye strain. Overindulgence of screens, especially back lit LED screens at night, has a negative impact on vision and causes digital eye strain. In some cases, if you have any underlying eye condition, it may get exacerbated due to all the strain. It is important that you are aware of them and receive timely treatment.
Symptoms of digital eye strain
- Dry or watery eyes
- Itchiness or burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- Frequent headaches
- A painful shoulder and aching back
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased sensitivity to light
6 effects of using digital devices on eye health
When your eyes are over exposed to digital devices, it may lead to-
- Digital Eye Strain- You have digital eye strain when you sit in front of your digital devices such as computers and mobile phones for two hour or more daily and develop problems with vision or eyes. You may have any of these symptoms such as eye strain, dry eyes, watery eyes, headaches, blurry vision and neck/shoulder/back pain. This happens mainly because of poor posture, decreased blinking because of constant staring at your screens and screen glare.
- Texting related issues- Messaging is a convenient way to keep in touch with your friends and relatives but it comes with its set of issues. Continuous texting can also cause vision issues, including dryness, eye strain, fatigue, headaches and sometimes even myopia and near sightedness. These issues arise because you hold the phone too close to your eyes, staring at the screen for long duration, and you squint or strain to read text displayed in small fonts.
- Computer Vision Syndrome- The symptoms are same as digital eye strain, occurs if you stare at computer screens for long periods without blinking, or from too close. It may cause eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, double or blurred vision, burning, itchiness or watering in the eyes.
- Tension Headaches- When you stare at your screen continuously, straining to read or see, it may cause headaches. Screen glare and high contrast between dark-coloured texts and bright screens are usually the reason as your eyes need to work harder while focusing on the screen, leading to headaches.
- Retinal Damage – Much has been said about the harmful effects of the blue light emitted by digital devices with LED screens. Direct exposure to these blue lights may cause retinal damage. According to a recent research, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens. Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.
- Ocular Migraines- One of the offshoots of sitting for hours in front of your screens is that it can trigger ocular migraines. Also known as retinal migraines, ocular migraines usually accompany flashing dots, nausea, sensitivity to flashing lights, temporary blindness, wavy lines, and may or may not accompany a throbbing headache.
- Dry Eyes- Dry and irritated eyes is another symptom of long hours of computer and digital devices’ exposure. Dry eyes also increase sensitivity to light and blurred vision. This should not be left unattended as it can adversely impact your eye sight. It is important that you wear anti-glare eyewear to protect your eyes from the computer screens.
Who is at Greatest Risk of Vision Issues because of digital screen exposure?
Young children now use mobile phones and watch television without any restrictions. They are dependent on it for their studies too as COVID-19 made sure no physical classes could be conducted till the pandemic subsided. Children face a higher risk of vision-related issues, since their eyes are still developing. They do not have the natural defense against blue light found in adult eyes as a result of the lens yellowing with age, which keeps blue light from efficiently penetrating and reaching the retina.
Those who work on computers all day, use phone relentlessly and depend on their smart phones and digital devices for everything, are at a higher risk of eye strain, especially if they do not follow proper eye care practices.
How Can We Prevent Digital Eye Strain?
Here are 10 preventative measures that can help protect your eyes from damage
- Using an anti-glare screen or coating on devices that you use often to avoid glare from your screens can help prevent eye strain.
- Follow the “20-20-20” rule – look away from the screen every 20 minutes, at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. You can also massage your eyes periodically for lasting eye strain relief.
- Do not keep your phone screen very close to you while reading or watching something on it. Keep your phone as far from your eyes as possible, but at a distance where you can still comfortably read without straining.
- Adjust the brightness on your digital display so it matches the brightness of the area around it.
- It is very important to maintain a good position while working on your computer. Position yourself at an arm’s length from the computer screen, with the screen just below your eye level.
- Do not work continuously in front of the computer. Take frequent breaks to rest your eyes. Stretch, go outside or rest it out.
- Get an eye exam regularly to keep your eyes healthy and catch any eye related issue right at the onset, before they get worse.
- Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently, since this keeps your eyes clean and lubricated.
- Place a light source behind you instead of behind the device, so your eyes don’t have to work so hard to adjust.
- Wear glasses with an anti-reflective coating while using any digital device for prolonged periods of time.
If you face any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule a consultation at www.boardofdoctors.com to combat the negative effects of digital eye strain. Our experienced team of ophthalmologists are always there to help you. Our expert Opthalmologists include Dr Anil Wani, Dr Nitin Shetty, Dr Anand Shroff, and Dr Sudha Manjunatha.