How Does Screen Time Affect Our Eyes?
Screens filled with images and information are everywhere in our lives. Intently looking at screens is beginning to affect our lives and our health. Text neck is strain and pain in your upper body caused by looking at your screen too often for too long.
In the world of optometry, one major effect of all these screens and the intent staring that we we’re doing is causing our eyes to be come tired and dry.
For many of us, when we look at our screens, we tend to stare closely. Our blinking slows, and we end up blinking less efficiently.
This causes dry eyes. The surface of our eyes dries out and that can cause discomfort and can even require a doctor visit.
Our eyes are straining to focus on screens that we’re staring at and not blinking enough.
The symptoms of eye strain include:
- eye watering
- blurred vision
- itchy eyes
- eye redness
For many of us, eye strain can be managed by limiting our screen time. However, for some it may be a precursor or sign of dry eye syndrome. Did you know that watery eyes are a sign of dry eyes? It’s a warning sign to pay attention to.
What Is a Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome (or disease) is a condition where the eye doesn’t have enough quality tears to clean and lubricate its surface. While this is a condition that we see often in older adults, it’s becoming more frequent in younger people in recent years.
What About Over-the-counter Solutions?
Over-the-counter (OTC) dry eye solutions are fine, but they are not necessarily what you need.
If your tear ducts are clogged or your Meibomian glands aren’t working properly, you might need an in clinic treatment to unclog them. Many dry eye solutions are simply moisture that grant you momentary relief, but don’t fix the problem.
When you see your optometrist she or he will be able to look closely at all the ducts and glands using our state-of-the-art diagnostic machine to make sure look for blockages, or inflammation that might be the root cause of your condition. We can fix it rather than making you dependent on eye drops unnecessarily.
Dry Eye Treatments
There are quite a few things we can do to help your eyes.
The first is to look at what’s causing the problem. It might be screens, allergies, dust, dry eye disease or any combination of factors. We start by eliminating environmental factors as best we can.
There are a number of medical treatments we can try:
- Artificial tears, gels, or ointments
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- RF Laser treatment
- Prescription medication
- Punctal plugs
Things like eyelid hygiene regimens, elimination of certain makeup, or a change in contact lenses can help to relieve the symptoms and repair the eyes.
All of this means that we have a number of options available to help your eyes feel better. Things like surgery are rare. Dry eye is a very personal condition and requires a personalized approach.
Things You Can Do To Prevent Dry Eye
When it comes to all our screens, they’re pretty inescapable. The best way to take care of your eyes is the 20/20/20 rule. The rule is simple: Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a bit of relief from the closeness of the screen.
If you forget to do this on your own, there are apps that remind you to look up and see what’s going on around you or gaze out the window for a moment.
Also, try to hold your mobile phone at arm’s length. Many of us are only 8 to 10 inches from the screen. This causes a lot of strain on our eyes. Holding it 16 to 20 inches away helps your eyes to not have to work so hard to focus.
Set aside a few hours a day to put away the screens. If you can stop using your screen for a few hours before bed.
If you start experiencing some of the symptoms of eye strain listed above, it’s a chance to change your behavior. Those warning signs are there to make sure that you take better care of your eyes.
Not sure? Give us a call.
Call us at Capital Vision Care. We’ll talk to you about your eye symptoms and help you decide a course of action. If you need an eye exam, we can get you in and provide relief from the discomfort of dry eye syndrome and Meibomian gland dysfunction and get you Living Life Unlimited.