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Can you imagine life before laptops and smartphones? Our society is heavily dependent on devices for both work and play. Convenience aside, we need to look at the potential harm to our bodies.
In addition to neck pain, hours spent in front of a device can also harm our vision in the short and long term. This condition is so widespread today that we have a specific name for it–digital eye strain. Anyone who uses electronics is at risk if they don’t take measures to protect their vision.
So why do devices have such an effect? You might have heard about the blue lights emitted by smartphones and other consumer electronics. These lights have a glaring effect on the eyes. Patients may experience symptoms, like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, nearsightedness, and eye fatigue.
But it doesn’t end here. Recent studies show that blue light decreases melatonin levels, the hormone responsible for helping us fall asleep. For this reason, it’s a good idea to log off at least two hours before bedtime to allow the body and brain to adjust.
While digital eye strain can develop in people of all ages, children are the most susceptible. That’s because they are still learning self-control and self-monitoring. This is where parents can step in to teach good habits and set boundaries.
As far as prevention for the general population, people can embrace the following best practices to protect vision and safeguard eyes from overexposure to blue light:
- Set limits on screen time. Hours in front of a device without a break can really add up. Take breaks every 20 minutes. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, don’t forget to turn off all electronic devices at least two hours before bed time.
- Consult your doctor. Parents: do you need some guidance on how to set and enforce rules when it comes to screen time? Your Midwest Eye Consultants doctor can help. Also, as you set your own limits for screen time and follow them, you are leading by example.
- Visit your eye doctor regularly. Nothing can substitute for a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your eye health.
As always, if you notice a change in or are concerned about your eyesight, know that we are just a phone call away or you can conveniently request your appointment online.