Keeping Your Eyes Healthy In A Digital World

Today, technology is everywhere we look.  It’s estimated that we spend an average of six hours per day looking at one digital device or another, be it a computer screen, a TV, an iPad, or a smartphone.  That’s a massive one-quarter of every single day! Given this, it’s no wonder that there are fears about just what all this ‘screen-time’ does to our eyes.

Digital Dangers

One of the most common consequences of staring at a screen all day is Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.  According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 90% of those who spend three or more hours a day at the computer suffer from the effects of CVS.  Symptoms of CVS include:

  • blurry vision
  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • dry eyes
  • eye strain
  • double vision
  • dizziness
  • difficulty in refocusing

What You Can Do About It

You don’t need to shut down your computer and switch your television off just yet, there are a few things you can introduce to your daily routine to improve, reduce or even eliminate these digital dangers. Here are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your eyes stay healthy in the digital world:

  • Sit 20-26 inches away from the screen, with your eyes 4-6 inches above centre.  Sat this way, you should be looking down at your screen a little, rather than straight ahead.  Tilt your screen back slightly.
  • Adjust the size of the text you are reading to ensure that you don’t end up squinting and straining your eyes.
  • Check the brightness and contrast of your screen and alter your settings for long reading periods.
  • LCD screens are better for your eyes than the old cathode-ray ones, so there’s another reason to keep your hardware up-to-date.
  • Symptoms can be exaggerated by bright, harsh overhead lighting, so check your external environment too.
  • Most importantly, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a break for (at least) 20 seconds and look at something that is approximately 20 feet away.  This break will relieve the pressure from your eyes and allow you to refocus, hopefully minimising the effects of long-term screen-time.

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

With news like this, it’s easy to get disheartened about how the modern world is affecting us –  but the truth is, it’s actually not so bad.  Advances in technology mean that eye-health and eye-care are improving rather than degenerating.  The development of Digital Retinal Imaging, for example, means that doctors can now scan much more of the eye and thus, detect problems such as cataracts much earlier.  Similarly, eye scanning smartphone apps are becoming a reality, and could help catch eye problems sooner than before.

So whilst sitting at your computer for long periods may cause you some problems, it’s relatively easy to minimise the negative effects, and it’s certainly not worth losing faith in technology just yet!