Digital eye strain: Protecting your vision in a screen-driven world - Hindustan Times

Digital eye strain: Protecting your vision in a screen-driven world

ByHindustan Times
Oct 31, 2023 10:45 AM IST

This article is authored by Dr Vijay Mathur, senior consultant, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals.

As the world tilts deeper into the digital age, an unprecedented number of hours are spent peering into screens. From smartphones to laptops, the barrage of blue light has escalated concerns surrounding digital eye strain (DES). With the lines between work and leisure blurred, safeguarding one’s vision in this screen-driven era is paramount.

Eye health(Unsplash) PREMIUM
Eye health(Unsplash)

Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is a condition characterised by a cluster of vision-related issues stemming from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Symptoms typically include dry eyes, headache, blurred vision, and neck or shoulder pain.

The discomfort from DES is not due to screens per se but rather how we use them. Several factors contribute:

1. Blue light emission: Digital devices emit high levels of blue light, which can reach deeper into the eye and potentially harm the retina. Though the damage isn’t fully proven, prolonged exposure may increase the risk of macular degeneration.

2. Blink rate: People tend to blink less when staring at screens, dropping from around 15 times per minute to 5 or 7 times. This can lead to dry, irritated eyes.

3. Viewing distance & angle: Close and consistent screen proximity strains the eyes. Moreover, looking downwards at a device for extended periods can cause neck and back discomfort.

To combat the ill effects of DES, follow these strategies:

1. 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This mini-break can reduce the strain on your eye muscles.

2. Optimise your workspace: Position your screen to minimise glare from windows and lights. The screen's top should be at or just below eye level. Consider using a document holder next to your screen to avoid continuously looking down.

3. Invest in protective eyewear: Glasses with anti-reflective coating and blue light filters can protect against harmful rays. Even for those without a prescription, such glasses can be beneficial.

4. Adjust screen settings: Increase text size, adjust contrast, and tune color temperature to reduce blue light emission.

5. Follow blinking exercises: Actively remember to blink more often. Every 20 minutes, try closing your eyes for a few seconds to moisturise them.

6. Regular eye exams: Regular eye check-ups can ensure that your prescription is up-to-date and can help in detecting early signs of eye issues.

As digital eye strain becomes a growing concern, the technology sector is responding with innovations designed to protect our eyes:

1. Adaptive screens: Newer screens automatically adjust brightness and hue based on ambient lighting, harmonising with the environment to reduce eye fatigue.

2. Software adjustments: Applications are now available that modify screen tones to align with our natural circadian rhythms, curbing blue light exposure during sensitive hours.

3. Hardware breakthroughs: Devices are being developed with integrated blue light filters and features that mimic the appearance of printed text, lessening strain.

4. Eye-tracking: Cutting-edge monitors are employing real-time eye-tracking to auto-adjust brightness, contrast, and content positioning based on a user's gaze.

5. Augmented and virtual realities: As AR and VR technologies evolve, they're being designed to mesh seamlessly with natural vision, using dynamic focus and advanced light-filtering.

These technological strides signify a commitment to ensuring user well-being in our screen-dominated age.

In an increasingly digitised world, screens are an unavoidable part of daily life. However, with awareness, precautions, and technological advancements, it's possible to protect our vision and navigate the digital age with clear and comfortable eyesight.

This article is authored by Dr Vijay Mathur, senior consultant, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals.

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