Do you ever feel like staring at a screen all day is affecting your eyes? Or your health in general? Well, the good news is you aren’t crazy, but the bad news is you may be suffering from digital eye strain caused by too much screen time.
According to the Vision Council, a trade group that represents eye care products, ‘digital eye strain is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen and is associated with the close to mid-range distance of digital screens, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and smartphones.’
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Most Americans are overexposing their eyes to digital screens
So we’re not just talking about teenagers playing too many video games. According to a recent study, most Americans are overexposing their eyes to digital screens. Nearly 90% of people surveyed said they spend two or more hours each day on digital devices, while 10% said they spend at least 75% of their waking hours staring at a screen.
Millennials seem to be most vulnerable to the negative effects of screen time — with 73% saying they experience digital eye strain symptoms, compared to 65% of Americans in general.
How to identify the symptoms and protect your eyes
Some common symptoms of digital eye strain include dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain and headaches, according to the Vision Council.
Here are some of the factors that determine a person’s risk for eye strain:
- proximity of the screen
- frequency and duration of use
- degree of exposure to high-energy visible (HEV) or blue light emitted by video screens.
Limiting these factors can help prevent or reduce the effects of screen time on your eyes. Wearing ‘computer glasses’ can also help, as they are designed to ‘alleviate vision problems and protect eyes from blue light, glare and other environmental stressors.’
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To help protect your kids’ eyes, experts suggest getting them in for an eye exam at least every year — if not even more often than that.
For more on the long-term effects and tips to reduce the impact of screen time on the eyes, check out this guide.