Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Pixabay - CC0 License
Looking at a computer all day long is an unfortunate reality of modern life for many of us. We have to sit motionless looking at an LED-backlit screen all day long if we want to earn our keep. It's the way of the world. 

The majority of us are willing to make the sacrifice if it means that we can take care of ourselves and our families. But the calculation changes dramatically when you include health considerations. Is it still worth staring at a screen if it hurts your eyesight? Maybe not. 

Does Screen Time Damage Your Eyesight? 

So, is looking at a screen from 9 am to 5 pm every day a good idea? Does it lead to long-term eye damage? 

To the surprise of many, the answer appears to be "no." Looking at a screen does not increase your chances of developing sight loss or damage your vision so that you need progressive lenses. In other words, it doesn't lead to fundamental changes in the eye that you can't reverse. It isn't permanent. 

That's not to say, however, that looking at a screen never causes any issues - it does. 

The human eye evolved in an environment in which people would have mainly focused on objects in the distance. Rarely would a person sit down and just stare at a rock or a tree for eight hours per day, so the eye never had to evolve to perform this function. 

In the last twenty-five years, though, we've seen a shift. Now more than ever before, people need to stay in one place and look at one thing, and it is causing problems. 

Eye dryness is the most common complaint of people who stare at their computers all day long. Researchers think that the reason for this comes down to the fact that people blink less when they look at computer screens. Less blinking reduces the amount of tear fluid sitting on the surface of the eye, making it feel dryer than it should. 

The next most common issue is eye strain. Remember we said that the human eye evolved in an environment where it was focusing on distant objects more than those up close? Well, this can lead to eye strain. The muscles that make the eye focus on near-field objects aren't designed to do so for hour after hour every day of the week. Eventually, they become fatigued, and this can cause eye strain - an uncomfortable muscular condition of the eye. 

How To Deal With Eye Strain

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to combat eye strain and dry eyes. Take a look at them below.  

  • Try placing a matte filter over the front of your screen as this will reduce reflections from sunlight coming in through the window
  • Take a break for five minutes every hour or so and stare out of the window. If you can touch type, close your eyes as much as possible while working. 
  • Keep some eye drops on your desk, just in case your eyes start to feel itchy. 

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