Modern technology has bought a wide range of benefits to our lives, from convenience and shopping to social media and connectivity, often at the touch of our fingers. But with so many people spending hours every day looking at a screen, we must consider the impact on our eyes and vision.
Nearly a third of people spend more than 8 hours a day on a digital device, with 60% of people spending more than five hours a day staring at a screen. According to a study in 2017, the average 8–18-year-old in the United States spends around 7 hours on a digital device, and it would be fair to assume that this will have increased since the pandemic.
So how is this affecting our bodies? There’s no question it’s impacting us in a variety of ways, from device separation anxiety – over 40% of those under 25 experience genuine anxiety if they’re unable to check their phone – to eye strain and deteriorating vision.
Eye strain is particularly common, with our eyes forced to work harder viewing at close range, and the blue-violet light found in most digital screens proving harmful to retinal cells over a long period of time. According to a 2020 study, approximately 60% of adults in the US experience eye strain from digital devices, and researchers have found a 35% increase in advancing myopia since the advent of smartphones.
Similarly, prolonged screen time can lead to tension headaches, often caused by the high contrast from backlit screens, and dry eyes, caused by a reduction in the blink rate when you look at things closer to your face.
But how can we protect ourselves from these effects? Nearly a quarter of all adults in the United States are unaware of the potential damage blue light can cause to our eyes, so simply being aware of the problem is a good place to start. You should aim to take a break from the screen regularly, particularly if you can then focus on something further away. Aim for a ten minute break every hour, if that’s feasible in your workplace.
If you wear glasses, you might want to consider investing in blue-light coating for your lenses. This will help block out the blue light emitted from most digital devices, protecting you from the harmful effects of blue light exposure. Even if you don’t wear glasses, you can get non-prescription lenses with a blue light coating, meaning they don’t impact the clarity of your vision, but will protect you from blue light exposure.
We can’t avoid looking at screens for too long in the modern, digital age, but we can certainly take steps to protect ourselves from the harmful effects technology can have on your eyes and vision. From taking breaks to investing in blue light coating on glasses lenses, or even on sunglasses, you can mitigate the impact of continued exposure to screens and devices.