- About 60% of Americans spends five hours of screen time daily.
- Extended screen time lowers your blink rate and leads to eye dryness.
- Older people, smokers, and children who spend more time using smartphones than playing outdoors are more prone to eye dryness.
Like many people nowadays, you may be glued on a screen most of the time. You may be working on your computer or browsing on your tablet and smartphone. Nearly 60% of the US population spends five hours on a digital device daily, while 70% use multiple devices at a time. The amount of time you spend on these devices can harm your eyes.
How Screen Time Dries Your Eyes
Keeping your eyes moist is the key to keeping it healthy. On average, people blink 15 to 20 times per minute. Blinking helps spread the tear film across your eyes, which hydrates your eyes.
Besides water, your tears also contain oil and mucus that coat and soothe your eyes, keeping it moist and comfortable.
Being glued on a computer for an extended time may affect the balance of hydrating substances in your tears. A 2014 study in Japan found that the tears of people who worked for hours on their computers contain a low amount of mucus and that 1 in 10 workers had dry eye, while more than half had probable cases.
While the risk of getting eye dryness increases with age, a study found that children with more screen time than outdoor playtime showed more symptoms of dry eye.
If screen time is unavoidable, here’s what you can do:
Follow the 20/20/20 rule.
The rule requires that for every 20 minutes of screen time, you should take a 20-second break by looking at something that is 20 feet away.
Use a humidifier.
A humidifier helps improve the quality of your indoor air by increasing its moisture, thus preventing quick dryness of eyes.
Remember to blink as often as you can, especially when you’re in front of the screen for a long time.
Keep screens at arm’s length.
Hold your smartphone or small devices at least 20 inches from your eyes. The same distance applies when you are using your computer monitor. Being too close to the screen slows down the rate of your blinking.
Switch to a larger computer monitor if possible, or make the texts and images bigger on your devices, so they are easier to read and see.
Use proper lighting.
The location of your computer can contribute to your eyestrain. Do not put your computer in front of or behind a window or overhead lights to avoid glare. Use blinds or curtains if necessary, and switch to lower-watt light bulbs.
You may also consider getting a screen glare filter to reduce the amount of light reflected from the screen.
Try eye drops.
Eye drops can help lubricate your eyes when you’re using a computer.
Make it a point to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day to avoid dehydration, which can worsen your dry eye symptoms.
Cigarette smoke is known to irritate and worsen dry eye symptoms. Smokers are twice likely to experience eye dryness.