By Daunte Henderson, BlackDoctor.org
Mama always said, “Don’t sit too close to the TV or it’ll ruin your eyes!” The new pearls of wisdom should be, “Don’t look at your phone/computer screen too much or it’ll cause digital eye strain!” Digital eye strain is caused by overexposure to high energy, short-wave blue light emissions from digital screens.
According to the American Optometric Association, about 62% of U.S. workers spend five or more hours on their digital devices in the office or working from home every day. It’s a pain in the behind to have to suffer with digital eye strain without relief. Digital eye strain affects more than the eyes. It can cause headaches, general discomfort as well as and other serious issues including sleep disorders and age-related vision problems.
Dr. Hilary Hawthorne is an accomplished optometrist based out of California. She’s a diplomate for the American Board of Optometry since 2011 and is nationally recognized for her work in the field of optometry. She’s the owner of Community Eye Center Optometry in Los Angeles. Dr. Hawthorne offers the following set of tools to cure your eye woes. I know they tell you don’t blink or you’ll miss something, but I’m actually encouraging you to do it this time.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
Take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
- Keep a distance.
The American Optometric Association recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer monitor where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and your back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
- View from a different angle.
Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
- Decrease glare.
While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
- Blink often.
Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently.
Dr. Leroy Vaughn, a board certified ophthalmologist in Inglewood, California, lends some helpful advice for people over the age of 50 as it concerns their eye health.
“If you’re over the age of 50 you need to get computer glasses. They’re half the strength of regular bi-focals. You must wear them when you’re at the computer.”
Dr. Vaughn also recommends using lubricating eye drops, increasing the font size and decreasing the brightness of the screen for people with cataracts.
Diabetes sufferers should take special note to keep their sugar levels in check because the disease can make you near-sighted according to Dr. Vaughn.
I know we all see our primary care doctors and even the dentist, but eye health matters, too. Get in the regular practice of seeing an optometrist to check the health of your eyes. You don’t want to be caught out there without a vision for the future.