Medically reviewed by Dr. Riaz Ali Shah.
With our increased dependence on devices for work and leisure, our eyes are more strained than ever by screens. Symptoms of this strain, also called computer vision syndrome, include: eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching and red eyes. The dangers of digital screens, therefore, are urgent and we must take measures to protect our eyes.
Besides strain on the eyes, research at the University of Toledo in the US shows that blue light from digital screens can accelerate blindness and increase sight loss. According to The Guardian, the research states that “… prolonged exposure to blue light triggers poisonous molecules to be generated in the eye’s light-sensitive cells that can cause macular degeneration – an incurable condition that affects the middle part of vision.”
The following are some of the lifestyle changes and actionable steps that can protect your eyes:
Keep your screens at a healthy distance
The computer screen should be positioned at least an arm’s length away from you. Moreover, make sure that your chair is high enough so that you are looking down at the screen. This makes sure that part of your eye is covered by your eyelid and does not become dry. When using your phone, it is best to keep it 16 to 18 inches away from you. Furthermore, using the phone in bed is terrible for the eyes and should be avoided.
Taking breaks is very important to maintain the health of your eyes. If you spend your day mostly looking at screens, you should look away every twenty minutes and focus on something at least twenty feet away. You can get up, stretch, walk around your house or workplace for a few minutes. This is also good for the rest of your body.
Adjust display settings to suit your eyes
Most devices now come with “night shift” which is meant to be used in dark settings to protect eyes from harsh blue light. If you are in a bright or dark room, adjust the settings of your device accordingly. The strain felt by your eyes will indicate which setting is best for you.
Glare from the screen can also be reduced by keeping your screen clean. Dust can reflect more light into your eyes. Also, avoid sitting near windows which reflect light onto your screens. Remember, to keep your eyes from drying out you must blink often!
Go see an eye doctor
It is important to get annual checkups for your eyes. You can consult a doctor in case you would like to have specialized glasses, also called “computer glasses”, which protect against glare, blue light and other dangers of digital screens.
We hope that these recommendations are useful for you. Write to us in the comments with your questions and concerns. You can also consult a medical professional about eye strain for free on our app.