Protecting Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain

We know that lots of folks couldn’t last a day without their mobile devices. It only makes sense. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?  Maybe you’re catching up on email before getting out of bed. Then, you land at your computer at work and spend most of the day on it or using one of the many other digital devices that are available in our technologically advanced society.

These electronic devices are emitting a dangerous blue light, which is negatively impacting not only your vision, but also your overall health!  It is a major concern for eye doctors all over the country.

Everybody knows to protect their eyes from the sun, but it is also advisable to take protective measures for their eyes when using digital devices.

Continual extended screen time can impact your eyes in two major ways. The first, and most common, side effect is digital eye strain. When we look at a screen, our blink rate drops significantly, and our eyes won’t put up with that for too long without fuss.

If you’ve ever experienced slightly blurry vision after staring at the computer all day, that was a sign of digital eye strain. Maybe your eyes feel dry, runny or tired after scrolling through your Facebook feed, or maybe you get a headache after a few hours on the computer. These symptoms are often so common that we don’t even recognize them as real issues. While digital eye strain is temporary, if left unaddressed, it can turn into a chronic problem.

The easiest way to address digital eye strain is to blink more. That might sound overly simple, but blinking helps to keep eyes lubricated. Another effective way to avoid or help to resolve digital eye strain is to follow the “20-20-20 Rule” — every 20 minutes, stare at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This exercise engages your distance vision and helps the eye to “reset.”

The second — and more serious — impact that too much technology consumption can have on our eyes is damage from blue light exposure. Blue light is just what it sounds like — it’s a type of light that gives off a blue color. Blue light is harmful, because it’s the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This energy is also able to penetrate all the way to the back of the eye, through the eyes’ natural filters, and that’s the problem.

Even though blue light is nothing new, the biggest issue is the amount of blue light exposure that we get each day through digital device use. With this exposure increasing over time, we are actually causing permanent damage to our eyes. But unlike digital eye strain, the effects of blue light are cumulative and can lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration.

Children are especially at risk when it comes to the negative effects of blue light exposure. These days, a lot of homework is done online, and many children have access to (or have their own) digital devices that they are using for increasingly longer periods of time. The difference for children is that their eyes are still developing, and they don’t yet have the protective pigments in their eyes to help filter out some of this harmful blue light. That’s why, just like with UV radiation, most blue light exposure occurs before kids are 18 years old.


By | 2015-01-14T14:05:23-05:00 November 20th, 2014|Eye Health|1 Comment

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  1. Caleb Thimell December 15, 2014 at 1:26 am - Reply

    Good suggestions offered here. A couple additional ways to reduce blue light include a software program that is available that reduces blue light. Suze Cohen mentions it in her book on Headaches. Also, I’ve worn blue blocker sunglasses while using the computer and noticed less eye strain the following day.

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