February 25, 2014
Tom Canty, Vice President and General Manager, Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Government, Labor and Special Accounts
Nowadays, people, from senior citizens to preschoolers, spend their working hours on desktop and laptop computers, use tablet computers in school, eReaders to read books and magazines and smartphones to stay connected with friends – texting, blogging, Intstagramming and surfing the web. In many ways, it’s great to be living in the digital age, but looking at a screen for hours can wear on the eyes.
According to a survey from the American Optometric Association, 85% of parents say their kids use an electronic device up to 4- hours a day. And in a survey by The Vision Council, more than 1/3 of adults in the U.S. say they spend between 4-6 hours a day using digital computer devices.
One has to wonder how all this affects the health of our eyes…and if there are any issues associated with the prolonged focus on the screens. The answer is yes. In fact, digital eye strain is the most common computer-related repetitive strain injury, exceeding carpal tunnel and tendonitis. Red eyes, twitching eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck pain, decreased productivity and more work errors, fatigue, and straining to see small fonts and images are some of the signs and symptoms that occur when experiencing digital eye strain.
Here are some tips for avoiding digital eye strain:
1. Follow the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye and reduces fatigue.
2. Reduce glare. Install an anti-glare screen on your computer monitor, cover windows with drapes and blinds, or use a computer hood to block some of the overhead and peripheral light.
3. Get the right light. The light surrounding your screen should be half as bright as what is typically found in most offices. Try to position your screen so windows are on the side of it. You can also try turning off overhead lights and replace them with a lamps that uses halogen or incandescent bulbs.
4. Blink often. People tend to blink less often when they look at a screen, which makes for dryeyes. Try this exercise: every 20 minutes, blink 10 times, closing your eyes very slowly. It’ll moisten your eyes and help you refocus.
5. Get an eye exam. If you’re logging on a lot of screen time, you should have an eye exam once a year.
Following one or more of the tips listed above will relieve the strain that is put on your eyes during this digital era.