- Screen time has increased from 10 hours to 13 hours as pandemic restrictions have brought work and school to home.
- The 20-20-20 approach is recommended: every 20 minutes spent at a screen, you must take a break and look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
- Blink every now and then to prevent eyes from drying up and see an optician or ophthalmologist if you experience eye fatigue, dryness, irritation, blurred vision, and headaches.
With the kids at home and the parents working from home because of the coronavirus restrictions, a new estimate says that screen time has increased to as much as 13 hours a day from 10 hours a day.
According to the Moorfield Eye Hospital in London, prolonged exposure to screens can lead to eye fatigue, dryness, irritation, blurred vision, and headaches.
Clinical spokesperson and retina specialist Dr. Raj Maturi, of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, called these symptoms “digital vision syndrome.”
What are the recommendations/measures to protect the eyes?
1. The 20-20-20 approach
According to Dr. Maturi, “When you are looking at a close target, your eyes are just training that one muscle at all time, and looking into the distance can relieve it.”
So, for every 20 minutes spent at a screen, you must take a break and look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
2. Blink More Often
“When things are bright, we blink less. It’s behavioral. So we can train ourselves to blink more often and blink fully,” Dr. Maturi said.
The moisture that coats our eyes is distributed when we blink thus preventing it from drying.
Artificial tears and humidifiers are recommended when you are already suffering from dry eyes.
3. Set up the workstation correctly.
The top of your computer screen should be in line with your eyes and about 18 to 30 inches from where you’re sitting and tilted back slightly.
4. Screen Position
“If you are looking down, then your eyelid is shut a bit and you’re not having as much evaporation — which can help prevent dry eyes. If you’re looking up high, your eye dries much quicker,” Dr. Rachel Bishop, a spokesperson for the National Eye Institute, said.
5. Dim surrounding lights to make your screen brighter.
6. Regularly dust/clean computer screen to avoid buildup that would lead to an obscured screen or eye irritation.
7. See an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) or optician
… if eye conditions like eye fatigue, dryness, irritation, blurred vision, and headaches persists. These could be symptoms of an uncorrected eye problem like astigmatism or long-sightedness.
Dr. Bishop said that, “For people who aren’t eager to have a medical appointment, the first thing is to try on some low-strength, over-the-counter reading glasses. Hold up something to read and pick the lowest number you can comfortably read at the distance you like to work.”
8. Blue light from digital devices
Digital devices emit blue light. This affects our body clock which affects our sleep. Dr Maturi said, “The issue with blue light is at night. It can delay your ability to sleep quickly.”
He recommends, turning devices to night mode for adults. For children, limit screen time and encourage them to spend time outside while observing pandemic restrictions. Although further study is still needed on this, outdoors time can slow the progression of myopia or short-sightedness in children.