As fall settles in, winter approaches.
Temperatures are falling. Animals are hibernating. New TV seasons, holiday movie marathons, and football games have multiplied, giving you a buffet of options from which to pick.
However, spending long periods in front of a screen can cause a number of vision problems.
Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a term for the variety of medical conditions that occurs in children, teens, and adults when they have spent too much time in front of their TV, computer, or mobile device. Signs and symptoms of digital eye strain include:
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Neck and shoulder pain
It might come as no surprise that more than 60 percent of Americans experience digital eye strain, according to The Vision Council. That’s because, between children and adults, we are using digital devices for more than two hours every day. All that viewing makes our eyes work harder, resulting in these vision issues.
The American Optometric Association says many of the symptoms are temporary and will likely go away when we’re not in front of our screens, but some may turn into more permanent problems.
Apple has attempted to combat digital eye strain by introducing Night Shift on its devices. This mode is designed to adjust colors to the warmer end of the spectrum, in contrast to the cooler colors you typically get on a screen. Android has built the foundation of its version, Night Light, but it is not yet available on all devices as of this writing.
Thankfully, preventing digital eye strain doesn’t mean you have to stop watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Instead, consider the following tips.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away from you, away from the screen.
- Be about an arm’s distance away from your screen. Sitting too close to the screen is stressful for your eyes.
- Increase text size on devices.
- Adjust the lighting. Reduce overhead lighting on your screens to eliminate glare. Also, watch TV with some additional ambient light on.
- Blink often. Reading, watching, or playing on a screen causes us to blink less than we normally do, so remember to blink. At least use some eye drops to prevent dry eye.
- Take breaks. For every 2 hours in front of a computer or a TV screen, take a 15-minute break.
- Get regular eye exams. You may need a different prescription for working on a computer or a prescription just for doing so if you don’t have one already.
- Get specialty eyewear. Certain lenses are made for stress reduction that can be manufactured for your choice of frames.
- Monitor device usage among children and teens.
As winter approaches, enjoy the wide variety of movie marathons and sports.
Just take a few moments every now and again to give your eyes a break.