Posted October 28, 2016
How many hours do you spend each day staring at digital devices? Researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York report that Americans are exhausting their eyes because of too much screen time, which can cause vision problems. The Vision Council surveyed 9,700 adults about the number of hours they spend daily on digital devices:
- 93 percent – two plus hours
- 61 percent – five plus hours
- 30 percent – over nine hours
During these hours, survey participants said they primarily use:
- Smartphone – 69 percent
- Laptop – 58 percent
- Desktop computer – 52 percent
- Tablet – 43 percent
- Television – 77 percent
Viewing digital screens extensively can lead to many vision problems, such as eye strain, irritation, dryness, fatigue, blurred vision and sleep problems. Eye doctors offer these solutions to alleviate problems:
1. Limit blue light – Digital screens usually emit a blue light, called high-energy visible light or HEV light. With prolonged use, this blue light can irritate eyes, cause long-term retina damage, increase risk for macular degeneration and disrupt sleep by affecting production of melatonin, a necessary sleep hormone. Control your exposure by
- Using a blue-light filter that fits over your device.
- Turning off devices at bedtime to prevent sleep disruption.
2. Blink frequently – Typically people blink 15 to 20 times each minute. This eye movement produces natural tears that keep eyes moist and remove airborne particles. However, when viewing screens, people may blink only seven to 10 times per minute.
3. Take vision breaks – Reduce eye strain by observing this rule when using a digital device:
- Every 20 minutes look away from the screen at a something 20 feet or farther away for 20 seconds or more.
4. Avoid bright lights – While bright lights help people navigate through their homes, less light is preferred when viewing screens. Too much light may create screen glare, forcing the eyes to work harder.
5. Use natural light – When possible, view digital screens by sitting outside or close to a window. Young adults especially need natural, outdoor light to help their eyes mature and to prevent myopia, or nearsightedness and other vision problems.