Since the invention of the personal computer and the internet, technology has innovated rapidly. The clunky operating system that took up an entire room has been reduced to a handheld device. Much of our daily lives revolve around screens and technology, whether you are working in an office or are a student.
Since the modern world relies so much on technology, many of the studies are about the impacts screen time has on your eyes. COD Eye Care Assistant and Ophthalmic Technician Program Chair Mitzi Thomas said looking at a screen for too long definitely impacts your eyes, but maybe not in the ways you might assume.
“You can’t damage your eye or suddenly have to wear glasses because you are staring at a screen for a long time, but you can have a lot of uncomfortable effects,” Thomas said. “One of the main problems that people complain about is eyestrain. Your eyes get super tired.”
Optometrist Ryan Jass has treated many younger patients with vision complaints even though there is no prescription change.
“Whenever we look up close, a muscle flexes in the eye that causes our lens to change its shape. That muscle, just like any muscle, when overused will fatigue more readily,” said Jass.
Being focused on and close to the screen causes many people to stop blinking, which can cause many other issues. Dry eyes, tearing up, stinging eyes, headaches and lack of sleep are just a few of the effects of constant screen exposure.
Jass said, “Naturally blue light triggers our brain to the melatonin cycle to stay awake. When that goes away, it tells our brain to go to bed.”
However, the impacts of blue light on the eyes are unknown.
“We don’t have a study of what 20 years of high-intensity blue light exposure does to the eyes, specifically developing eyes,” Jass continued. “What we’re really trying to find out now is are these kids that are on these devices for so many hours a day harming their eyes?”
The Meibomian gland, the oil gland within the eyelid, produces a layer of the tear. When you blink, the gland produces oil that prevents the tear from evaporating. However, a decreased blink rate is the No. 1 correlating factor to the glands becoming damaged. When it is damaged it cannot be recovered.
Both Thomas and Jass recommended the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break, and look 20 feet away. They also recommended lubricating drops as well as reminding yourself to blink more while using a screen.