15 March 2022
Take steps to look after your vision
The average amount of hours worked by Europeans each week is 37 hours. Of course, some people might work a lot more than this, while other people are part-time workers, but the vast majority of job roles these days require looking at screens. Whether you’re working on a computer in the office, looking at till screens in your retail job, or receiving information via LED screens working in a train station, most of us rely on digital devices to carry out our jobs.
On top of any screen time at work, the average amount of time that adults spend on their mobile devices each day (such as a phone or tablet) is 3 hours 43 minutes. This doesn’t include activities such as putting the TV on in the background while you’re cooking, or watching a film in bed to help you nod off. It’s clear to see that you can easily achieve 12+ hours of screen time a day which is the majority of your waking hours.
Digital screens are known to strain our eyes, so we’re going to look into why this happens and what you can do to prevent it. March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, so when better to spread awareness about methods and steps you can take to preserve your eye health?
How does blue light from digital screens affect your eyes?
Digital screens emit blue light. Blue light is a type of light that has a short wavelength and high energy levels. These properties mean that it can enter your eye very easily, passing straight through the cornea to reach the retina at the back of your eye. It is thought that too much exposure to blue light can damage the light-sensitive cells in your retina and begin to affect your vision. In fact, macular degeneration is thought to occur as a result of overexposure to blue light as it promotes the growth of poisonous molecules in your eyes. Macular degeneration causes your central vision to deteriorate, thereby making day to day tasks very difficult.
This research surrounding blue light is why digital screens get a bad reputation, particularly when it comes to discussing increased screen time as a result of the pandemic. Interestingly, the level of blue light emitted by digital screens is actually significantly lower than the amount of blue light we’re exposed to daily, just from being outside in the sun. It might be possible that the problems that people experience from excessive screen use (such as eye strain and dry eyes) may actually occur as a result of their close proximity of the screen, rather than due to blue light exposure.
How can you avoid eye strain from digital screens?
Most of the eye problems that we associate with our screen use actually occur due to eye strain, rather than the impacts of blue light. We all know how to rest the muscles in our legs when they’re strained after some intense exercise, and it’s equally important to know how we can rest our eyes when they’re feeling the effects of 12+ hours of screen time. You can try some of these methods to help:
- Dim the brightness of your screen
- Zoom in to 120%+ on your computer and smartphone
- Use eye drops to hydrate your eyes
- Use matte screen covers to prevent glare
Eye specialists also recommend the use of the 20-20-20 method. This is a set of exercises designed to give your eyes a break from screens and to let them focus on objects at different distances. Every 20 minutes, it is suggested that you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This encourages your eyes to keep moving, blink a bit more, and therefore stay better lubricated. A break from screens and your work likely also helps you mentally, ensuring that you stay more alert whilst in turn reducing any potential eye strain.
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