Phones, tablets, televisions, laptops- the screens are everywhere today. Just over the past few decades, the number of screens has increased rapidly to become an everyday necessity.  People in the past didn’t even have smartphones, but people who don’t own smartphones have become a rarity.  Today, screens have become man’s best friend. But are screens really so, or are they man’s worst enemy in disguise?  Are they causing eye problems all around the world?

What is the prevalence of eye problems today?

With the increase in digital device usage across people of all ages, the prevalence of eye problems has increased as well. Digital eye strain (DES) is now a major disease which is also known as the computer vision syndrome. Recent research has estimated that these symptoms are 50% more among computer users. In 2016 surveys showed that adults in USA spend about 4 hours 45 minutes on their screens every day.

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What are the eye problems caused by screen usage?

The computer vision syndrome consists of the following ocular conditions:

  • Dry Eyes

When using computers and phones, we often tend to gaze intensely into the screen. Often times we become so engrossed in the screen that our blinking rate decreases. This means that the amount of times you blink per minute will decrease significantly to almost half. So, the tear film does not get to replenish the eye’s moisture. Because of this, you will suffer from dry eyes, irritation and redness of eyes as well. You might even being to tear up excessively since it is a reflex response to dryness.

  • Blurring of vision

When working on your phone or laptop, your eye has to focus and refocus many times. You may sometimes look at your paper, and then back at your computer and vice versa. This will cause your eyes to constantly be shifting and adjusting. When this is done for a long time, your eyes will usually get strained and overworked. Your eyes may feel tired and you may even find that your vision is blurred.

  • Symptoms because of improper posture

When using our digital devices, sometimes we get so engrossed into the content that we forget to take care of our posture. Sometimes we spend hours in the same position. We may not realize then, but later for sure our body reminds us- with headaches and backaches.

What can you do to prevent these symptoms?

  • If you find that there is a lot of glare coming from your screen due to the lighting, you can opt to keep an anti-glare screen. With the use of curtains and drapes, you can fix the lighting in a way that keeps the glare away. In addition, you could also use a lower wattage bulb on your desk lamp.
  • Position your screen in such a way that it is slightly below eye level, about 25-28 inches away from your face. Make sure you are not stretching your neck.
  • If you are working with documents, put a stand next to your monitor for your documents. That way you won’t be looking too far away from your screen and your eyes won’t have to focus and refocus as much.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Use the computer for 20 minutes, then look at an object that in 20 meters away. Keep looking away at least for 20 seconds. If your eyes feel dry, apply tear drops.
  • In order to reduce the dryness, you can also opt to use a humidifier in your room.
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