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What effects does too much screen time have on our eyes?

Families School

Q.) My family is staring at screens all day now. What are the effects on our eyes? What can we do about it?

A.) Eye doctors are indicating that increased time on screens is related to vision changes, dry eyes, blurry vision, eye fatigue, and headaches. Here are some ocular health tips for you and your family.

* GO OUTSIDE. Outdoor time exposes your eyes to a different type of light than screens. Bright natural light may protect against nearsightedness, eye strain, and dry eyes. Also, going outside has other mood-boosting and physical health benefits.

* ADD DISTANCE BETWEEN YOUR EYES AND YOUR SCREEN. Being too close to the screen contributes to additional eye strain. Experts recommend keeping an arm’s length between your screen and your face. Good posture – with your feet on the floor, a straight back, and your wrists off the keyboard – will also help contribute to a proper distance from your screen.

* GIVE YOUR EYES A SCREEN BREAK EVERY 20 MINUTES. Staring at your screen decreases your blinking rate and increases tear evaporation which can lead to eye dryness, redness, and visual fluctuations. Taking 20 second breaks for every 20 minutes of screen time can be helpful. There are a range of options for your eyes during those 20 second breaks: Look at something that is 20 feet away, blink your eyes 20 times, or just close your eyes.

* LIMIT SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED. Light emitted from screen-based devices at night suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. As we’ve posted about before, sufficient restorative sleep is essential for optimal performance and heath. Give your eyes and brain a break; make it a family habit to put the screens down in the hour before bed.

* SEE AN EYE DOCTOR. If you or a member of your family has concerns about vision, please talk to a professional for individual consultation.

* ATTEND UPCOMING SEMINAR. If you’re interested in hearing experts talk about the effects of screens on ocular health, here’s a link to an upcoming webinar hosted by the Children and Screens Institute on February 10th at noon EST.

Additional reading:

Children and Screens

Electronic Screen Alert

Prior posts on sleep health during a pandemic.

Melatonin and Sleep

Boosting Your Immune System

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