Digital Eyestrain - What is it?
Your alarm goes off - as you sleepily reach for your phone, not quite ready to begin the day, you casually scroll through facebook in an attempt to stay in bed for that much longer. Sipping on some morning coffee, you browse on a tablet to catch up on the latest news. At the office you log in hours of screen time at your desktop computer, only to catch up on some texting with friends/family or browsing through Twitter over your lunch break. After-dinner, two hours of tablet/laptop time in front of the TV before heading to bed, where another 15-minutes of smartphone reading precede setting your alarm for tomorrow's wake up call... sound familiar?
Total screen time in the progressing world we live in only seems to be increasing. In our constantly-connected age, a routine such as this one becomes more and more common. Surely, these habits effect our eyes? The answer: Absolutely, and its been labeled Digital Eyestrain.
But, what is digital eyestrain exactly? According to a 2015 report published by The Vision Council, "Digital eyestrain is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen and is associated with the close to mid-range distance of digital screens, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers, and cell phones." Another recent article published by 20/20 magazine states, "A major cause of digital eyestrain is the blue light emitted by computers, tablets, smartphones, and light-emitting diode (LED) lights, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). This band of blue-violet light, which is considered potentially harmful to retinal cells, ranges from 415 to 455 nm. It's important to note that not all blue light is bad. In fact, our bodies actually need some blue light, specifically turquoise light (blue light with wavelengths of approximately 460 to 485 nm) because it can be beneficial if we are exposed to it at the right times. Exposure to blue-turquoise light during the daytime helps to modulate melatonin production in our bodies, which sets our circadian rhythms and regulates our sleeping patterns."
Despite the hours logged with our minds focused on these multiple screens, there is hope! There are many options designed to combat these effects, the most well known of these is BluTech lenses. This a somewhat yellow tinted lens option serves a great purpose for those of us who spent countless hours in an office in front of that screen each week. More and more people have tuned into the idea of an "computer" lens option for themselves as well as their families. Because, let's face it, most kids today are more savvy with their ipad than they are with Legos. In addition, research suggests that we follow this simple rule of 20/20/20: Look away from the computer at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds at a time, and repeat this action every 20 minutes.
As our daily routines continue to change, so must we adapt. The value of constant communication, sharing, and information received from the online world we live in today will never outweigh the importance of the eyes we view it through.