How to reduce the impacts of screen time on your eyes
The digital lifestyle is great.
Movies at the click of a button, instant chats with family overseas, digital notebooks, iPhones, iPads, and the list goes on. But, what about the most important i’s in our lives?
Our eyes are bearing the brunt of digital advancement. Smaller screens, working from home, a life chained to our inbox, computer games and teeny tiny smartwatches! While our increased online presence is an important way for us to stay connected, it has also impacted our eye health. A growing number of patients, mostly children, are presenting with complaints of achy eyes, headaches, and blurred vision.
If you’ve felt that nagging pain behind your eyes after staring at a screen all day, you’ve probably experienced it, too. Often, it presents as:
- Achy, tired, itchy, dry, or watery eyes
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble keeping your eyes open
- Increased light sensitivity
Screen time for kids in Australia
Most Australian children spend more time on screens than is recommended.
Estimates from primary research carried out by the Australian Institute of Family Studies suggest only 17–23% of preschoolers and 15% of 5–12 year olds meet screen-time guidelines. Screen time has also been shown to increase between the ages of 10 and 14, especially among boys.
** For screen time, the guidelines recommend:
- no screen time for children younger than two years
- no more than one hour per day for children aged 2–5 years
- no more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day for children and young people aged 5–17 years (not including schoolwork).
So how can we reduce the impacts of screen time, for children and adults?
Reduce the impacts of screen time
Dry Eye drops
Dry eyes occur when tears aren’t able to provide the adequate lubrication your eyes need. To prevent this, speak to your Optometrist or doctor about using eye drops.
Blue light filter
You can also use a blue-light-blocking screen for or wear glasses that block blue light to help reduce any glare. This stops the harmful blue light from entering your retina.
If you already use glasses or lenses, make sure to get your eyes checked regularly. Try investing in computer glasses that block blue light. This will magnify what you see and reduce eye strain. Even if you don’t have long-term eye conditions, go in for a full eye check-up annually.
When you’re working on a laptop, playing computer games, or just browsing online for long periods, try to take a break every 20 minutes. Get up, walk around, get some fresh air before returning to the screen.
Remember to Blink
This one may seem obvious but computer work, gaming and even reading can cause your blink rate to slow down and you most likely won’t even notice. This can cause your eyes to dry out. So always remember to blink!
Tilt your screen slightly downwards. This may help to reduce glare, which often contributes to eye strain.
Put more space between yourself and your computer screen. Your monitor should be about 25 inches away from your face. If it is too close, you are more likely to want to move towards the screen to bring your eyes into alignment which can impact your eyes and your posture.
More information for children
Children spend a lot of time in front of a screen. TV, iPads, gaming even education is going digital. These days most children 8 and under have their own tablet device. Whilst it can be hard to pry these devices out of their little hands, regular screen breaks are important.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, for children younger than five years, there is strong evidence that screen time has negative effects on:
- motor and cognitive development
- social and psychological wellbeing
For children and young people aged 5–17 years, screen time may have negative effects on:
- weight and diet (especially from TV viewing)
- behavioural problems, anxiety, hyperactivity, attention, self-esteem and psychosocial health
Possible Eye Conditions
We all need to be aware of the possible effects of screen time on our eyes which can in some cases lead to:
- Myopia or short sightedness
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
- Blurry vision
- Sleep disruption
- Long term eye problems, conditions, and disease.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies Guidelines for Screen Time for Children can be found in the Australian 24-hour movement guidelines for the early years (birth through to five years) and children and young people (5–17 years) (introduced in 2018).
Eye health at iOptical
Our team can offer treatment and preventative care options for adults and kids experiencing eye fatigue, symptoms of dry eye or other eye health concerns. We can also discuss your current prescription and advise on the best options for blue light products.
Book your appointment today.