The American Optometric Association’s 2016 American Eye-Q survey revealed that 88 percent of Americans know that digital devices can harm their vision, yet the average American spends seven hours or more each day looking at digital screens.
Too much screen time can lead to digital eye strain, a condition caused by overexposure to high-energy wavelengths called blue light. Other problems associated with excess screen time include headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, and sleep problems. According to the AOA’s survey, millennials are some of the worst offenders when it comes to their digital devices. On average, millennials spend a whopping nine hours per day on smart phones, tablets, LED monitors, and flat-screen televisions, putting them at an even higher risk for eye damage.
Let’s all acknowledge that there is no turning back when it comes to technology. It almost impossible to go through a single day without using a digital device, but experts encourage individuals to learn about blue light’s effect on vision and try to limit exposure when possible. Here are some ways to preserve your vision and control your screen time:
- Put your devices to bed. Turn off digital devices at least one hour before bedtime, and don’t turn them back on until morning. Too much blue light can suppress melatonin levels and cause insomnia.
- Remember the 20-20-20 rule. When you are using any device or computer, take a 20-second break and look away from the screen every 20 minutes and view something at least 20 feet away.
- Keep your distance. Increase the distance between you and your digital device by using the zoom feature to see small print and details, instead of putting the device closer to your eyes.
- Customize your devices to fit your needs. Reduce the glare on screens by adjusting device settings or using a glare filter to decrease the amount of blue light reflected from the screen.
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Call your eye care professional to schedule a full eye exam to maintain your vision health, and call your eye doctor if you experience any changes in your vision.