It’s commonly believed that regular screen use isn’t great for your eyes and that it can have long-term impacts on our vision and overall eye health. Is it really as simple as that? Or are there things that we can do to ensure that we are using our screens in a way that protects our eyes?
Debunking the myth
According to studies, regular screen use doesn’t actually cause long-term damage to your eyes. Staring at a screen will not harm your eyes, however, it can contribute to eye strain, which is uncomfortable and best avoided!
Some of the signs of eye strain are:
- Headaches that come on after working on a screen or reading a book.
- Sore, tired eyes.
- Stiff shoulders, neck and back.
- Dry eyes. This is caused because we blink less when we are using screens, which means that fewer tears are produced. Making a conscious effort to blink more often can help to alleviate this.
If you think that you have been suffering from eye strain then it’s a good idea to visit your optician, as it can be caused by an incorrect glasses prescription. There are also some steps that you can take to look after your eyes and prevent eye strain.
Taking steps to protect your eyes
The most important thing that you can do to prevent eye strain is to take regular breaks when you are doing anything that involves close focus, like working on a screen, reading a book or things like sewing and knitting.
The recommendation is that you follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes you take a break and look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This small habit will give your eyes a chance to rest, which can help to prevent eye strain. If you struggle to remember to take breaks, it can be useful to download an app for your computer or phone to periodically remind you to take a break.
Another way to prevent eye strain is to invest in a pair of glasses for computer use. Specialist glasses for computer use will filter out the blue light that is emitted by your computer screen, and will also protect you from screen glare. Another important way to protect your eyes is to set up your computer so that it is optimal for your eye health.
This means ensuring that the brightness level isn’t too high and also making sure that your screen isn’t reflecting glare back at you from overhead lights or sunshine through a window.
Your screen should be set up so that the top of it is level with your eyes, and it should be angled away from you between 10 and 20 degrees. You can use a screen riser to ensure that your screen is at the right height.
Finally, be sure to have an eye exam at least once annually to ensure you have the correct prescription, and to allow early detection of any issues.
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