Do Computers Really Cause Eye Damage?

February 3rd, 2019

Whether you work in an industry or if you’re retired, it’s hard to avoid spending hours at a time on a computer. In fact, 80 percent of Americans have some type of computer in their home. [1] Computers are incorporated into most aspects of our lives, and they tend to streamline our processes and communication.

Even though computers are convenient, there’s talk about whether or not computers can cause eye damage. Whether you’re on a computer for 10 minutes or 10 hours every day, there is much to learn about the effects of staring at a computer screen — as well as what you can do to prevent straining to your eyes.

Facts About Computers and Eye Damage

Even though there are headlines about computers causing eye damage, in reality, computers aren’t as harmful as one might think. “Staring at your computer screen, smartphone or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage.” [2]

However, there are temporary effects that arise from staring at a digital screen.

Studies show “we blink half to a third less often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play.” [2] Since the eye doesn’t naturally blink as much due to looking at a screen, this can cause dry, tired eyes and even trigger migraines. [3]

There’s a name for this kind of temporary effect: computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. [4] This type of eye strain occurs when you’ve looked at a blue light screen for a long amount of time.

The effect may not be permanent, but it could get worse and linger until you start incorporating better eye care habits. The discomfort and pain could also spread throughout your body, including your neck and shoulders. [4] Looking at blue light late at night could also interfere with your sleep, as this light source tends to wake up your eyes [5].

If you have a vision impairment such as farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia, these could also encourage digital discomfort symptoms. [4]

How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Avoiding long periods of screen use is difficult, especially if it’s part of your daily job or routine. But there are ways to adjust your computer habits to ensure you aren’t straining your eyes and causing discomfort.

The American Optometric Association recommends the 20-20-20 rule. Within this rule, you’re encouraged to take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds by looking at something 20 feet away. [6] If you start making the 20-20-20 rule a daily habit, you could avoid the symptoms of digital eye strain.

More tips for preventing digital eye strain include:
-Limiting your use of a computer or other blue light device
-Turning on a light when you’re using your computer
-Enlarging your computer’s font size
-Taking the initiative to blink more

Finally, another way to reduce eye strain is by using lubricating eye drops to reduce dryness. A daily eye care supplement for dry eyes could also promote moisture in your eyes.

Take care of your eyes.

References:
[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/25/a-third-of-americans-live-in-a-household-with-three-or-more-smartphones/
[2] https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/computer-usage
[3] https://migraine.com/migraine-triggers/
[4] https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
[5] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/block-blue-light-to-sleep-better
[6] https://www.aoa.org/documents/infographics/SYVM2016Infographics.pdf
[7] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372403
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