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How do screens affect your eyes?

All of our eyes are enduring much more screen time than before, as we spend more hours at home during the coronavirus lockdown. Everyone, adults and kids alike, are relying more and more on televisions, video games, computers and phones for entertainment and work. These are used to kill time, but is it also killing our eyesight?

Limited screen time

Staring at a screen, especially for a long period of time, can strain your eyes. We blink less when looking at a screen. Our eyes also work harder to focus on the movement on the screen. Typically, we do not position our screens at an ideal angle or distance. This causes additional strain. Children are most likely to be affected by long-lasting effects on their vision.  

Having medical insurance like Affinity Health can assist in getting your family the help it needs from various specialists, including the optometrist

Give us a call, and a trained agent will guide you to find the proper package that works for you. 

Screen time does do a lot of damage.

Your eyes can experience eye fatigue. Your eyes get tired from intense usage of screens. This leads to double vision, headaches and difficulty with concentration. 

Blinking your eyes less causes dry and irritated eyes. We blink less when looking at a screen. Dry and irritated eyes can impact your health and provoke blurry vision. 

Focus flexibility can be lost as we age, especially because of excessive screen time. Our eyes will lose the ability to adjust when wanting to focus quickly at certain distances.

Your children are prone to developing nearsightedness if kept indoors and staring at different screens. The long term impact on their eye health will develop as a result of a lack of natural daylight. Set a limit on daily screen time for your children. Encourage outdoor activities during the day. Establish screen-free zones, whether it be at a restaurant, during dinner, etc. By moderating your own screen time, your children will learn how to practice their screen time habit less. 

Studies via UPMC show that the blue light from digital devices can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. The retinal damage may lead to early age-related macular degeneration, followed by the complete loss of your eyesight. Smoking also increases the risk of several eye disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration.

Screen time can also affect your sleeping patterns. The blue light from digital devices affects your brain’s sleep rhythms at bedtime and assumes that the screen light is daytime.   

Protect your eyes from an overload of screen time. 

You should adjust the brightness of your screen. Your screen should be less bright than the natural light around you. Your eyes will be less strained if your screen light is adjusted accordingly. 

An eye break should be considered every 20 minutes. You can look at an object a few metres away for 20 seconds. This exercise will refocus your eyes. 

Artificial tears keep your eyes moist. It acts as a lubricant when your eyes feel dry. Screen time dry out your eyes. Heaters and air conditioners can do the same to your eyes. 

Your screen should be kept an arm’s length from your eyes. Also, angle your screen slightly downward when used. 

A glare from the sun or an internal light can aggravate your eyes. Position your screen away from the glare at all times. 

  • Use a blue light filter on your screen. The filter decreases the original blue light on your digital device. Your eyes will feel less tired after a day of using the blue light filter.
  • Get a yearly eye exam at a physician. Check your eye health and if you are developing any chronic eye conditions. Receive more frequent exams if your family have a history of eye diseases or other risks. 
  • Make regular eye exams for your children too. It is difficult to tell if your child has a vision problem. A paediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist, who specialise in children, will be able to assist you with this. Add this into your family health schedule for the year, and make sure to stick to it very strictly. 
  • Maintain a nutritious diet. Eat loads of fruits and vegetables. Minimal saturated fats and hydrogenated oils promoted a healthy lifestyle and may boost your resistance to eye diseases. 
  • Wear hats and sunglasses. This is important to do at any age. Learn about how your eyes age, as well as the risks and any warning signs that you should look out for. 

Why you should turn your blue light filter on

Blue light is the light that is emitted from the screens we use each day. Our cellphones, laptops and even TVs emit blue light, and there have long been discussions on the effect the blue lights have on our bodies and minds. It is visible light with wavelengths 400-450 nm.

However, there have been no documented health effects of day-to-day exposure to blue light, whether it be as a cause of eye disease, eye strain, or disruptions to the circadian rhythm, as distinct from any other frequency band of visible light.

Wikipedia explains that, regardless of the lack of scientific basis, numerous products and software claim to filter out blue light to prevent eye strain and sleep disruptions.

But as with everything, opinions still differ on the effects of blue lights and the need for the blue light filter feature on devices.

All About Vision explains that blue light is everywhere. It is emitted by the sun, which contains red, orange, yellow, green and blue light rays and many shades of each of these colours, depending on the electromagnetic radiation (which is the energy and wavelength of the individual rays).

Sunlight is the main source of blue light. The light from our screens is the man-made version, although the amount of HEV light these devices emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun. This means that our eyes and brains are able to filter the light just fine. The concern comes with the frequency with which we use these devices and get exposed to these lights. 

Also, we use our phones in close proximity to our eyes, and the long-term effects may only be apparent later, but there is a certainty that they will occur.

Can blue light filters really help?

According to Iris, the emitted blue light from our screens can disrupt our sleep cycle by suppressing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turning on the filter on your screen, especially close to bedtime or for working late into the night, can help you rest better once you are done. 

Thrive Global reported in November 2018 that besides eyestrain, blue light could also cause long-term health problems and cancer.

The blue light filters act as a barrier between your eyes and the screen and can slow down the negative effects associated with blue light. 

People are reliant on their digital devices, and because it is not a viable option for many to eliminate technology from their lives altogether, experts suggest downloading a blue light app or investing in devices that come with a built-in filter feature. 

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