We are living in a generation where technology is everywhere. Electronic devices have become a large part of our lives. Thirty percent of adults spend more than nine hours a day using a digital device of some kind: smartphone, TV, computer, tablets. We’ve certainly noticed all the benefits of this technology and the ways our lives have improved: making information more easily accessible and helping to connect with others among others. But are we also aware of the harm excessive electronic use is doing to our bodies?
Excessive exposure to electronic screens can cause reduced blinking rates and digital eye strain, which is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. Cumulative and constant exposure to lights on digital screens can damage your retinal cells and lead to long-term vision problems. The retina, which is responsible for processing intensity of light and color, does not have the ability to regenerate or be replaced if damaged. The worst of the screen light culprit is blue lights (lights that appear white also typically have a large blue light component). Blue lights are especially disruptive to your sleep because they suppress the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that influences the circadian rhythm.
Here are a few helpful tips for protecting your eyes:
- Take frequent breaks when using digital devices
- Take 20-20-20 breaks: every 20 mins, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away
- Don’t have screens too close to your eyes
- Consider computer eyewear to help block blue light exposure
- Adjust text size on your screens
- Remind yourself to blink
- Install apps on digital devices to help filter out blue lights, especially at nighttime
- Set an “electronic shut-off” time – and stick to it!
- Purchase and apply blue light filter screen protectors on your digital devices
Your HealthPoint provider is a good resource for additional tips about reducing electronic use. Just ask!