Screens Part Of Your Everyday Reading? 9 Eye Care Tips To Keep In Mind

With an increase in use of screens in daily life, how do we take care of our eyes? Here are 9 eye care tips to help.

With an increase in use of screens in daily life, how do we take care of our eyes? Here are 9 eye care tips to help.

Screens have invaded almost all areas of our lives these days. From booking movie tickets to restocking groceries and even reading a book – most of us seem to be reaching for one screen or another throughout the day. Even waking up and going to bed with yet another look at our cell phone screens. So our eyes have to constantly adjust and re-adjust to the varying brightness levels and distances as we switch between screens and real life.

The problem

The human eye has not evolved for constant focusing on a close light source. Continuous screen exposure – be it computers, tablets, smartphones or the television – is a vastly common occurrence these days across age groups. Eye strain was once mainly an occupational hazard for people whose professions entailed peering into a computer screen all day. But it is no longer restricted to those in computer-operating desk-jobs. Phones, ipads, tablets and televisions all have the agenda of keeping us hooked to them for as long as possible. While the mind is entertained/preoccupied/distracted the eyes bear the brunt.

Some symptoms of eye strain (also called eye fatigue) are tired, itching or burning eyes. Prolonged screen exposure leading to eye strain is a rather common problem these days, but one that has simple solutions. Apart from eye strain, other issues such as blurred vision, dry irritated eyes, headaches and even double vision are common among many who use computers or even cell phones for hours together on a daily basis. These need to be taken seriously and addressed before they aggravate into chronic problems.

There is even a term for eye problems caused by continued use of computers – Computer Vision Syndrome. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to minimize and even eliminate the signs and possibility of this common problem. With some forethought and a few simple precautions, we can protect our eyes from the adverse effects of prolonged computer usage.

The solution

  • Make sure you are seated at least an arm’s length away from the computer screen. Keep your eye level about five inches above the screen, so that you are looking down at the screen with a 20-degree angle. This ensures consistent moisture in your eyes as the eyelids significantly cover the eyes in this case. It also minimizes the reflection of ceiling light from your screen.
  • Give your eyes a break from the screen every 15 minutes. Look up and focus on a distant object for a couple of minutes. And for every two hours of looking at a screen, take a 15-minute break. During this break, make it a point to blink often and even keep the eyes closed, letting them rest and re-lubricate.
  • Wear glasses with anti-reflective (AR) lenses to reduce glare from screens and reflection from overhead lighting. AR lenses which also block blue light are available as well. Electronics emit a form of blue light that reaches all the way to the back of the eye, and is largely responsible for eye strain. There are lenses which selectively absorb this harmful blue light and prevent it from passing through the cornea and reaching the back of the eye. Some smartphones even have an inbuilt blue-light filter in them these days. An anti-glare screen over the computer screen is also a good idea.
  • Make sure you incorporate enough of Vitamins A and C, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. These are essential to keep eye strain at bay. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cucumbers and green leafy vegetables are excellent for the eyes.
  • Get into the habit of blinking often while looking at any screen. Observe anyone sitting at a computer and you will notice that their blink rate drops down massively. Lubricating the eye happens literally in the blink of an eye, and we deprive our eyes of moisture when we forgo blinking for longer periods of time. Blinking more often is possibly the simplest way to avoid eye strain from screens.
  • The 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stare at something at least 20 feet away for a good twenty seconds. With all the screens in our lives, most of us cannot recall the last time we looked into a vast open sky that didn’t sit inside a tiny screen as another screensaver or Instagram shot. Our eyes were designed to look way ahead into horizons and not just into screens we hold in our hands. Looking far away relaxes the focussing muscles inside the eye.
  • An annual comprehensive eye exam: Be sure to tell your ophthalmologist the number of hours a day your eyes are exposed to a computer/tablet/TV. Many vision-related problems can be treated and even averted by regular comprehensive eye exams.
  • Proper lighting: Sitting under a bright overhead fluorescent light as you tap away on a computer/smartphone is bad for your eyes. Too much bright ambient light is a cause of eye strain as well. Reduce the brightness of the ambient light and use floor lamps if possible.
  • Adjust your display settings: Make sure the brightness matches that of the surroundings. Adjust the contrast levels, colour temperature and text size till it is comfortable to read.

The extent of eye strain or other eye-related problems depends hugely on the amount of time spent peering into screens. When the duration cannot be reduced due to work requirements, these basic precautions become all the more important. But as far as you can help it, do make it a point to look up more often. No amount of technology consumption is worth compromising our vision and well-being for.

Image source: eye strain warning by Shutterstock.


About the Author

Namita Kulkarni

Yoga teacher, writer, travel blogger. Loves going where she’s never been, having (mis)adventures, dancing with words and music, learning new languages and stories. Tabasco, sunshine, poetry, the night sky and words are some read more...

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