If you spend your workday on the computer, and then go home to watch TV or spend time on your tablet, mobile phone or gaming device, you may be doing long-term damage to your vision.
“The time spent staring at computers and digital devices can tire our eyes and make them sore,” says Jim Ostermann, an optician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers. “Long-term damage to our vision can result. It can also cause issues while sleeping.”
Studies show that displays on laptops and smartphones produce white and blue light, which can interfere with your sleep cycle and irritate the eyes. Avoiding digital devices for 30 minutes before bed is associated with better sleep.
Give your eyes a break
Ostermann advises breaking up long stretches of device time. Both short and long breaks are best. Short eye breaks are best spent frequently blinking your eyes to ensure that they remain moist. Longer breaks away from close work promotes a healthy return of normal eye focusing ability.
“Or, just stand up every 30 minutes for a quick stretch break or walk, and keep your phone in your pocket,” he says.
There are applications that can help mitigate the damage that can be inflicted on our eyesight by computer and smartphone screens by adjusting the screen light according to time of day. If you wear glasses, your lenses can easily be created with special blue light filters and coatings designed to selectively block harmful blue light exposure. Talk with your eye care specialist to learn more.
Don’t neglect your neck
Spending too much time on devices can strain your neck as well. Studies show that bending your neck to look down at a mobile device can add as much as the weight of four bowling balls — 60 pounds — to your spine. When looking at your device, maintain a neutral neck position and take regular breaks to look up and around.
The same goes for your desktop computer, says Ostermann. “Avoid a stiff neck at the end of the day behind a computer by ensuring the height of your screen is at the proper level for you.”
If you don’t need glasses for reading and close work, the center of your computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below. If you wear progressive lenses, your screen should be much lower. Adjust your screen (and possibly your chair) so you can just see over the top edge of the monitor.
“This may seem too low but try it out,” says Ostermann. “You will find this height allows your line of site for the screen to be slightly downward. This allows you to easily use the intermediate and near powers of your progressive addition lens without having to uncomfortably raise your chin to see.”
If you experience eye strain often or haven’t had an eye exam in more than one year, follow up with your eye care provider.
Sharp Rees-Stealy offers a range of optical services at eight convenient locations around San Diego — from comprehensive eye examinations to eyewear and contact lens service.