Our generation is most exposed to a digital lifestyle and most aware of its consequences at the same time. From laptops and tablets to smartphones we are constantly surrounded by screens. You might wonder Does screen time affect vision.
Though the recommended screen time for adults is not more than two to three hours a day, an average American spends more than 7 hours a day looking at their screens.
But what are the effects of prolonged screen usage on your eyes? Read on if you regularly look at screens for a prolonged time or are worried about your vision.
Why Does Too Much Screen Time Affect Eyesight?
Most of our electronic devices emit blue light, that is, light between 380 to 500-nanometer wavelengths. This light carries high energy, meaning it has a greater impact on your eyes, especially the retina. The retina forms the connection between your eyes and the brain.
Research suggests that overexposure to blue light from screens leads to degeneration of the retina, leading to age-related vision problems. While blue-light emission is a major concern, excess screen time can also cause other short-term changes to the eyes.
Effects Of Excessive Screen Time
Looking at a screen for hours together tires your eyes, leading to a range of issues. While some eye problems may be more obvious, others can develop without any symptoms and cause complications.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Also known as digital eye strain, it is characterized by dry, red eyes, which can be watery or itchy. Your eyes might also feel fatigued and uncomfortable looking at the smartphone or computer screen.
Poor usage conditions such as dim lighting, screen glare, or wrong viewing angle can aggravate these symptoms. We recommend getting the right diagnosis through eye exams if you suspect you have CVS.
Globally, around 70% of regular computer users reported symptoms of CVS. Among them, blurred vision and eye irritation were the most common.
A well-known rule to prevent screen-related eye fatigue is the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of looking at the screen, look 20 meters away for 20 seconds. It gives your eyes some rest, reducing strain.
You can also try increasing the font size, using a screen glare filter, and placing the computer screen at a suitable distance from your eyes. Frequent blinking will also relieve your dry, irritated eyes.
Myopia or nearsightedness is a condition in which you have trouble seeing things far away but can clearly see things nearby. According to Science Daily, excessive smartphone and computer usage can increase the risk of myopia to 80% in young people.
That is because our eyeballs elongate when we spend too much time focusing on nearby objects. As kids’ eyes are still developing, they are prone to developing nearsightedness. In adults, excess screen time can worsen existing myopia.
Your doctor can determine the extent of myopia and suggest treatment options such as spectacles, contact lenses, or even laser surgery.
Mucus Fishing Syndrome
It is a condition where you constantly remove mucus strands from your eyes, causing eye irritation. It is usually an aftermath of dry and itchy eyes common among people who regularly use electronic devices.
When your eyes are dry, it produces more mucus and tears to compensate for the dryness. It may lead you to “fish” the mucus strands from the eye, further irritating it and causing it to produce more mucus. It creates a cycle of production and removal of mucus, which leads to a stinging and painful sensation in the eye.
Loss of Focus Flexibility
The lens in our eyes is flexible to enable focusing at different distances. When we look at smartphones and other devices, our eyes focus only on a single distance for a long period. It causes the lens to lose flexibility, and our eyes can’t quickly adjust to different distances.
As we age, our eyes lose focus flexibility gradually. But staring too much at a screen can fasten the process. But it is a short-term problem and can be corrected by giving your eyes adequate rest.
Conclusion: Take A Break From The Screen
Though there is no evidence that prolonged screen usage causes permanent vision problems, frequent eye fatigue hinders your everyday activities. The best way to prevent any screen-related eye problems is to take regular breaks every hour and rest your eyes.
Using computers and smartphones under proper lighting and at appropriate angles can also prevent a variety of eye-related issues. If problems such as dry eyes or blurred vision persist, then a visit to the eye doctor can get you the right diagnosis and treatment.