While there is no doubt that staring at the computer or a cell phone for hours a day leaves your eyes feeling tired, gritty, and taken advantage off. And while we are all aware of the dangers of not wearing sunglasses, many people are ignorant about the detrimental effects of digital screens to the health of our eyes.
What are primary reasons screen time contributes to uncomfortable eyes?
There are many causes for dry eye symptoms, everything from hormones, to inadequate oil composition of your tear film. However an area many tend to overlook is blinking. Studies show that not only do we blink less often when looking at a computer/cell phone/or television, we actually blink less fully as well. Both the quantity of our blinking as well as the completeness of those blinks can lead to faster evaporation of the tear film, which in turn causes symptoms of dry and uncomfortable eyes.
Screen time may also cause strain as our eyes/and our prescriptions are not designed for mid distance vision. A computer screen is right between near and far vision, as our eyes are forced to concentrate at these distances it places a strain which can cause headaches, muscle aches, and a feeling of our eyes being tired and sore.
Another potential contribution of screen time to dry eyes, is the exposure to harmful blue light. While the long term effects of blue light exposure to our eyes (and our children's eyes) is still unknown, we do know that blue light damages the cells in our eyes much like UV rays from the sun. However unlike UV rays our eyes are terrible at filtering out any of the blue light that is commonly found in the light of a computer screen or phone screen.
In addition to the specific causes of computer related dry eye symptoms, many times there is a combination of different causes that contribute to the symptoms you are experiencing.
So how do you prevent dry and tired eyes from happening?
Three simple rules will help alleviate much of the symptoms discussed above.
Wear computer glasses with a blue light filtering lens coating
Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break to blink fully and focus on something 20 feet away.
Schedule a yearly eye exam at a dry eye center to have your tear film and other tests as well as having a custom made treatment plan.