Display screens may be damaging your vision

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By Brittany Bains, ahchealthenews.com

As technology continues to advance, people are spending more and more time in front of screens. While some may consider this a bad habit and others an unavoidable consequence of the digital revolution, staring at a screen too much can cause uncomfortable eye issues.

Extended or frequent computer, tablet and smartphone use can lead to a host of eye problems like eye strain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision and double vision. Taken together, these conditions are sometimes referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, according to an article in Survey of Ophthalmology.

“There is no set time limit for how long you should spend in front of a screen. Some people can stare at a screen all day long with no symptoms, while others are more easily affected,” says Dr. Harold Sy, an ophthalmologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “The two main issues people experience are dry eye and eye strain from accommodation, the act of focusing up close.”

Dr. Sy adds that due to the natural weakening of the muscles responsible for near vision, those over the age of 45 often experience additional difficulty seeing things up close. This could result in eye pain, headaches, or the need for reading glasses.

The “20-20-20 Rule” could help protect your eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). After looking at a screen for 20 minutes, avert your eyes and focus on something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Repeat this process every 20 minutes during your screen time. The AAO also advises sitting about 25 inches away from your screen and adjusting it so your gaze is slightly downward; this will also help to reduce dry eye.

“To combat dryness due to computer use, consider using artificial tears as needed and make a conscious effort to blink frequently,” says Dr. Sy. “When concentrating on something that requires visual attention such as a computer, TV or phone, the eyes blink less and are therefore more exposed. Making an effort to blink can lower your risk for dryness, irritation, light sensitivity and even eye pain.”

For people who continue to experience these conditions, Dr. Sy recommends visiting an ophthalmologist to rule out any more serious issues.

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