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How to Keep Healthy Eyes with a lot of Screen Time

August is designated as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. A good rule of thumb is to have your children’s eyes examined during well-child visits, beginning around age four. This is especially important considering how much time we are spending in front of screens. But what can you do at home to make sure their – and your – eyes remain healthy day to day?

Excessive screen-time can lead to eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, and insomnia. While there are low chances of permanent vision damage from screens and the blue light they emit, it is true that reading on the computer causes more strain on your eyes than reading from printed pages. Focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half, which tends to dry out the eyes. We also tend to view digital devices at less than ideal distances or angles.

You do not need expensive computer glasses for yourself and the kids. They are shown to be no more effective than neutral filters according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Optometry. Instead, you could do these simple environment-changing steps:

  • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: The eyes actually have to work harder to see close up than far away. Try keeping the monitor or screen at arm’s length, about 25 inches away. Position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
  • REDUCE GLARE: Glass screens can produce glare that can aggravate the eye. Try using a matte screen filter.
  • ADJUST LIGHTING: If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, your eyes have to work harder to see.
  • Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
  • GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK: Remember to blink and follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking into the distance allows your eyes to relax.
  • KEEP EYES MOIST: Keep artificial tears at hand to help lubricate your eyes when they feel dry. Consider using a desktop humidifier. Office buildings have humidity-controlled environments that suck moisture out of the air. In winter, heaters on high can further dry your eyes.
  • STOP USING DEVICES BEFORE BED: There is evidence that blue light may affect the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake, and the sleep cycle. During the day, blue light wakes us up and stimulates us. So, too much blue light exposure late at night from your phone or other devices may make it harder to get to sleep. Limit screen time one to two hours before bedtime. Use nighttime settings on devices and computers that minimize blue light exposure.

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