Does our time on the computer have more of an effect on our eyes than we think?

Americans today spend more time on the computer or looking at digital screens than we ever have before. And can you blame us? Our friends, our lives, our work and our leisure is often all located on our computers, our phones or our television screens. In fact, it is more unusual these days for someone to not use a digital device daily than it is for someone to use one.

However, will all of this focus on technology and glowing screens, many people have began to question just what kind of effect this will have on our vision in the long run.

A new study released by the Vision Council, a global voice for vision care products and services, looked into the effects of computer screens on our vision. In this survey, a reported 70% of users of desktop, laptop, tablet, TV and phone screens reported some level of eye discomfort dubbed “digital eye strain.”

Some of the symptoms that users gave of this digital eye strain included blurry vision, neck and shoulder cramping, dry eyes and fatigue.

However, some of the reasons for this discomfort that many computer users experience may not necessarily be related to long-term eye diseases developing, but rather the intense stare that occurs when we use these digital devices.  According to Dr. Joshua L. Dunaief, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute, “we don’t blink as much when using screens because the blink response is suppressed. So we don’t spread tears across our eyes and they wind up drying out.”

In this study, the Vision Council has also hinted at the possibility of long-term eye risk from over-exposure to blue-light digital screens, including macular degeneration and cataracts. However, This view is quite controversial, and there has been no data to support this in the many studies that have been done relating to computer screens. Only in studies that were focused on sunlight has this been shown to be a long-term effect.

The best way to prevent the “digital eye strain” that many adults are feeling when using computers for too long is to take vision breaks every so often. Many eye doctors and optical experts suggest using the “20-20-20” rule―every 20 minutes, stop looking on your computer and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a break from focusing too hard and not blinking.

Baby boomers who are losing their ability to focus might also find vision relief in computer progressive glasses. These specialty glasses feature lenses at the top of the glasses that are set for intermediate range of the monitor, and a different lens at the bottom that is set for reading range. These dual-focused lenses, along with an antireflective coating, may help to provide relief of eye strain and fatigue for many seniors.

What do you think about the relationship between our vision health and computer screens? Do you find that you have any changes to your vision after you have been on your computer or phone for too long? Be sure to share your experiences with us in the comments below!

 

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