Vision Wellness in the Age of Screens
Although the exact statistics are mixed, there is a general consensus that an individual’s exposure to screens has dramatically increased over the last few years due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some sources say the average US adult spends 4.2 hours per day on their smartphone. Other sources estimate that the average time spent is upwards of 5.4 hours, with millennials spending almost 12 hours per day on their phones!
These numbers don’t even take into account the time spent on computers for work, or hours spent binge-watching tv.
We are living in a screen-centered world, and there is no likelihood of that changing anytime soon. Our children are being exposed to screens earlier than ever before through tablets, smartphones, online books, and even online school.
So what does all of this screen time mean for our eyes and our children’s eyes?
Computer Vision Syndrome
Overexposure to computer, tablet, or smartphone screens leads to symptoms like stiff neck and shoulders, blurry vision, watery eyes, and headache. These symptoms are categorized as computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain.
Glare, bad lighting, bad posture, improper distance, untreated eye conditions like astigmatism, hyperopia, and presbyopia, and incorrect prescription all increase your likelihood of experiencing symptoms.
These symptoms are temporary and will go away with reduced use of screens, correction to your work setup (seating, computer distance, lighting), and proper treatment of vision issues.
If you work in front of a computer for 5 or more hours per day, you may also benefit from computer prescription glasses, specifically created for wearing while using a computer. Talk to your doctor to determine if these special lenses would work for you.
A recent study published by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Ophthalmology found that incidences of myopia in children doubled from 2019 to 2020, as compared to 2018 to 2019. This shift was caused by the environmental changes we saw after the onset of the pandemic including reduced outdoor activities and increased digital screen time.
Many recent studies have proved that increased screen time in young children and teenagers leads to an increased risk of myopia, or nearsightedness.
At the rate our average screen time is increasing, these numbers are rapidly going up. In 2000, only 23% of the world’s population suffered from myopia. In 2020, that number had increased to 34%.
Although myopia can be caused by genetics, there are a number of risk factors that can be controlled to reduce an individual’s risk. The most important of those being reduced screen time.
Protecting your child’s vision from an early age is essential to their lifelong eye health. Here are a few things you can do today to help protect your child’s (and your!) eyes from digital screens –
- Set limits to screen time and set reminders to take breaks
- Follow the 20/20/20 rule
- Get outside! Children who spend more time outdoors have a reduced risk of myopia.
We hope you have found this article informative. It is important to remember that screen time can be damaging to your and your child’s vision in the long run. But, establishing proper usage habits can help to protect your vision for years to come. If you are interested in learning more about this topic or are experiencing symptoms related to screen use, contact us today.