The Simpsons – Homer’s eyes; Don’t Dry Your Eyes Like Homer. Listen To Your Ophthalmologist! Too much computer screen time causes Dry Eyes & Digital Eye Strain. Power Out – Lights Out? We know; You can Still Dunk In The Dark! But Guess What – No Need To!!!
Digital Eye Strain is gaining a great deal of attention as Covid-19 pervades every aspect of our lives. Although Digital Eye Strain (DES) or rather Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a well-known entity and has been a recognized health problem for over 20 years, because of Covid-19 and remote learning, it has become much more common than before.
Digital eye strain is a worldwide problem, and it is occurring more frequently in kids. Since screen-time becomes a bigger part of children’s lives, here are ways for preserving your kids’ vision. First and foremost; Let us answer the Big Question – No special glasses required! Good News!
As children are exposed to screen-time more and more, we see Digital Eye Strain more often among them. But, overcoming the symptoms presenting in younger children is not too difficult at all.
It is excruciatingly painful to see again many schools reopening even this fall with fully or partially remote learning models because of the coronavirus. DES is more prevalent in children and females, and the higher the hours of use of a digital device, the greater is the risk of DES.
Our eyes do not have any problem focusing on most printed material, which is characterized by dense black characters with well-defined edges. Healthy eyes can easily keep the focus on the printed page. Characters on a computer screen or a digital device, however, don’t have this contrast or well-defined edges.
Those characters are brightest at the center and they tend to diminish in intensity toward their edges. Our eyes struggle to maintain focus and remain fixed onto these images. Instead, our eyes slide out to a point called the “resting point of accommodation” or RPA. Then our eyes unwillingly move to the RPA and then strain to regain focus on the screen.
This continuous flexing of the eyes focusing muscles creates fatigue and the burning, tired-eyes feeling that is common after long hours at the computer.
The other cause of digital eye strain lies where how many times we blink our eyes in a minute. We nearly blink 18 times per minute. But, staring at a digital screen reduces blink rates, which results in dry, scratchy, and itchy eyes.
Also, spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen changes tear fluid and makes it similar to the tear fluid of people with dry eye disease.
Although there are a few causes for DES, the main most common cause of eyestrain is based on the extended use of computers and other digital devices. The American Optometric Association identifies this medically as computer vision syndrome or digital eyestrain. Especially children who look at screens two or more hours in a row every day have the greatest risk of this condition.
Common causes of eyestrain are;
As opposed to being relaxed in the straight-ahead position when looking at something further away, looking at the screen in the close distance the eyes turn in to focus on the screen. Eye strain is fundamentally caused by straining one or more of the eye muscles.
Most commonly eye strain is caused by straining the ciliary body, the eye muscle responsible for the accommodation. After a while, the turning in causes fatigue of the eye muscles, which can cause headaches or other vision problems.
Typically the muscle is strained by keeping it in one position for a long time. In other words, eye strain is caused by visually concentrating on one thing or one distance for too long.
The eyes more likely tend to strain faster from focusing on near distances as opposed to far distances. Switching between distances rapidly can hasten the strain as well.
The other loud and clear danger of digital devices is blue light exposure. Digital devices emit blue light, or high-energy visible light, which causes eye irritation, and prolonged exposure has long been known to damage retinal cells.
The energy of blue light can damage young eyes and cause retinal damage. The reason children’s eyes develop gradually, and they lack a certain filter that protects their eyes. But when it comes to adults, they do have protective pigments in the eyes that help prevent blue light exposure.
Also, the link between screen usage and myopia in children, the condition, commonly referred to as nearsightedness, is on the rise. The medical research data from the American Optometric Association revealed that one in four parents had a child with myopia in 2018, an increase of 25 percent from just 40 years ago.
In case it is not treated, myopia has the potential to lead to a higher propensity for developing serious eye diseases later in life, including myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma.
What produces myopia is the elongation of the eye – Although it is not exactly known why that elongation is caused “by the image that people are looking at getting left behind the retina,” which happens when you bring something closer to you to view, like a tablet or a phone.
Therefore it is highly recommended to keep digital devices about 2 feet or 60 cm away and at eye level. Being in front of a screen closer than this requires our eyes to focus harder to keep the image sharp, which can cause strain and potentially worsen myopia.
This rule is focused on taking a 20-second break and looking at something at least 20 feet or 6 meters away every 20 minutes. Doing this gives eyes a break and a return to their natural position and it certainly helps eyes resume a normal pattern of blinking and allows eyes to rest.
After this 20 second break, taking the time to adjust the brightness of the computer screen is important so it matches the brightness of the lighting in the room. Also, anti-glare screens for computer monitors and special coatings on eyeglass lenses help prevent squinting.
As an exercise, it is better to have a look at a faraway object for 10-15 seconds, then look at an up-close object for 10-15 seconds. Looking at a faraway object for 10-15 seconds will certainly reduce the risk of locking up your eyes’ focusing ability when a long period is spent on a computer.
Taking frequent breaks would help reducing eye strain, as well as neck, back, and shoulder pain associated with sitting at a computer all day. During these breaks, stand up, move around and stretch to reduce muscle tension and fatigue.
Blinking plays an important part in eye health. Blinking creates moisture in the eyes to guard against dryness and irritation. Long time computer work typically decreases blinking without realizing it. Read & Blink!
People happen to blink approximately one-third fewer times when working on a computer, and many of these blinks are indeed only partial lid closures.
The potential warning signs of having vision trouble are; Headaches, excessive blinking, eye rubbing, and feeling tired or cranky.
As far as medical standards concerned, fluorescent lighting is often excessively bright and harsh on the eyes. When using a computer or other digital device for long periods, the ambient light, or light that’s around you, should be approximately half as bright as what’s normally found in an office or living-room environment.
In light of diminishing the harsh effects of too much light — whether from the natural light coming in through the windows or interior lighting; For natural lights, close drapes or blinds when available, and position your computer monitor so the windows are to the side of it, not in front of or behind the screen.
Better to turn off overhead fluorescent lights when possible, or reduce the number of tubes installed above your work area. Use floor lamps or halogen lighting that provide indirect incandescent light.
A longer viewing distance and high contrast reduce the chances of developing DES. Also, the screen brightness is very important. Too bright screens are not good for the eyes. Adjusting the screen brightness down for indoor use would be very helpful.
Looking away from the screen periodically, reducing the brightness of the device, increasing conscious blinking are some of the steps that help protect our eyes from the ill effects of technology.