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The Dangers of Screen Fatigue

According to several credible organizations, Screen Fatigue, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, is a major problem in this day of advanced technology.

Smartphones along with laptops, tablets, and televisions emit blue light, a type of light that the brain interprets as daylight. The blue light actually suppresses melatonin (a hormone that affects circadian rhythm and should increase when you are preparing for bedtime). As a result, your brain feels stimulated. If you’re looking at the screen at midnight, your brain will get confused and believe the sun is out—making it a lot harder to fall asleep at night.

If you really think about it, we are spending most hours of the day staring at screens. All these wonderful technological advances, however, do not come without consequences. We have put together some information from different credible sources to help you identify and treat some of the issues prolonged screen time can cause.

Some of the symptoms of Screen Fatigue include:

  • Sore, tired, burning and/or itchy eyes

  • Watery or dry eyes

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Sore neck, shoulders or back

  • Increased sensitivity to light

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open

  • Struggling to see

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Insomnia

Some of the causes of Screen Fatigue include:

  • Looking at digital device screens

  • Reading without pausing to rest your eyes

  • Driving long distances and doing other activities involving extended focus

  • Being exposed to bright light or glare

  • Straining to see in very dim light

  • Having an underlying eye problem, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error)

  • Being stressed or fatigued

  • Being exposed to dry moving air from a fan, heating or air-conditioning system

If you are guilty of too much screen time and experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, try some of these tips to help decrease your symptoms:

  • 20-20-20 Rule - Look away from the screen at least every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help your eye muscles relax and help decrease symptoms of screen fatigue.

  • Make Your Text Bigger - To minimize squinting

  • BLINK! - Staring at screens actually decreases our blinking per minute by half. Blinking helps keep our eyes lubricated and reduces dryness, redness and itching.

  • Dim the Screen - Especially at night. Researchers say staring at a brightly lit screen is one of the biggest problems. Staring at brightly lit screens at night can actually disrupt our sleep cycle - causing insomnia! Your screen lighting should be half as bright as the surrounding lighting.

  • Change Your Contacts - Keep your contacts changed frequently and your contact and eyeglass prescriptions updated regularly.

  • Minimize Screen Glares - A glare on a computer screen caused by surrounding lighting causes computer eye strain. If possible, install an anti-glare screen on your display. Anti-glare glasses are also an option to prevent glare on screens.

  • Update Your Monitor - Replace any old-tube style monitors with a flat-screen LED monitor with an anti-reflective screen.

  • Adjust Device Settings - Font should be large enough to read comfortably; black print on white background is the easiest on the eyes. Brightness should be the same as the brightness in your surrounding area; if the screen is a light source, it is too bright and causing strain on your eyes! Reduce the screen display color temperature - blue light is more straining on the eyes.

  • Take Frequent Breaks - Taking a 10 minute break to move around every hour will decrease the built-up strain on your neck and back.

  • Posture and Position - Make sure you adjust your seating that allows your feet to rest properly on the floor. The screen should be 20-24 inches from your face and 10-15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck.

  • Use Artificial Tears - The Mayo Clinic suggests over-the-counter artificial tears. “These can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well-lubricated and prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Your doctor can suggest which eye drops might be best for you. Lubricating drops that don't contain preservatives can be used as often as you need. If the drops you're using contain preservatives, don't use them more than four times a day. Avoid eye drops with a redness remover, as these may worsen dry eye symptoms.”

In conclusion, if you think you are experiencing some of these symptoms, try changing some of your daily habits to help minimize the Screen Fatigue. Another way to prevent Screen Fatigue is to wear blue light blocking eyeglasses. If you are interested in purchasing a pair of your own, stop by A Look Ahead Eyewear on the Square or visit IZIPIZI to order a pair online. Your local eyecare provider may carry them as well.

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