Digital eye strain: Take breaks from screen time to save sight
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) - A report just released from The Vision Council has a warning about how much time you spend on your smart phone, computer or tablet.
Betsy Behne comes in to see her optometrist, Doctor Brian Kuhlman, at least once a year. She had surgery at age eight to repair the retina of one of her eyes, which could have destroyed her vision.
"They had to cover both eyes with patches, so I know what it's like to be completely blind and I don't want to lose what I have," she said.
According to the new report many people could be at risk for losing some sight for another reason, one Betsy also knows all too well, "I have an iPhone, iPad and a laptop, and at work I work on the desk top."
The problem is too much screen time. For most people it's at least two hours a day on one device, for many its the use of multiple devices at one time. This has already led to nearly 7 in 10 adults reporting symptoms of what's now called digital eye strain.
"So when you're working on both a tablet or a screen, our eye muscles have to focus the entire time and just like any muscle in our body, our eyes get fatigued," said Dr. Kuhlman.
It's not exactly clear yet what is contributing to the digital eye strain. It could be that a person's blink rate changes which could lead to drier eyes. In addition to that, there's some question about the actual light that's coming from the screen.
"Probably the biggest question is about blue light, there is a lot of thought that blue wavelength light, emitted from our tablets, computers and phones, can increase the risk of macular degeneration," said Dr. Kuhlan.
Macular degeneration makes people lose focus from the center of their eye out. So to stop digital eye strain a general rule is called the 20/20/20 rule; for every 20 minutes a person is working they take a 20 second break, looking at something 20 feet away. That's extra important if people already notice early warning signs of eye strain, which include headaches, dry eyes or eye fatigue. That's a break three times an hour.