How Prolonged Screen
Time Can Impact Eyes
More time spent in front of devices could cause
dry eye disease, with symptoms such as dryness.
Learn how prolonged screen time can impact your eyes, and some helpful tips.
These days, it may seem impossible to avoid exposure to digital screens. From work to home, you might be using devices like a computer, phone, tablet or television - maybe even a combination of all four - throughout the day. Believe it or not, all of this might be taking its toll on your eyes.
How prolonged screen use can lead to dry eye
So, how can prolonged screen time lead to dry eye symptoms? It turns out that research has been done on this very phenomenon.
In one survey that was published in 2012, researchers found a positive correlation between dry eye symptom score, as self-reported through a questionnaire, and the number of hours spent by study participants working on a computer in a typical day. The study looked at the prevalence of dry eye symptoms in 520 New York City office workers, and examined the effect of risk factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, smoking, type of refractive correction and hours spent doing computer work. 32% of subjects reported symptoms of dry eye and 31% reported symptoms of eye discomfort at least half of the time during computer use "over the past week." In addition, there was a positive correlation observed between computer-related visual symptoms and the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), which assesses dry eye symptoms.
Why does this occur? Researchers hypothesize that prolonged use of screen devices may lead to a decrease in blink frequency (how often people blink) and incomplete blinking may contribute to increase in evaporation of tears leading to instability of the tear film.
Tips that may help with strain from devices
While extended screen time can't always be avoided, you can try these tips recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
Give your eyes a break. Try to follow the 20-20-20 rule as best that you can. You can do this by taking a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Check your screen's position. Try keeping the monitor or screen at arm's length about 25 inches away and position the screen so that your eyes gaze slightly downward.
Reduce glare. Try using a matte screen filter.
Adjust lighting. If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, try to adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen.
Although you might be mindful about proper screen time use, you may still find yourself suffering with dry eye symptoms. If so, set up an appointment with your eye doctor. They can help you reach a diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment, including seeing if a treatment like prescription Xiidra might be a good fit for you.