WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The pandemic has brought on a significant increase in screen time: the average screen time is now about 13 hours per day.
- Excessive screen time can strain the eyes, making them dry and irritated, which can lead to more severe vision problems.
- It’s recommended to take a break every 20 minutes to rest your eyes.
As the pandemic brought forth a new normal, most people stayed indoors, jobs transitioned to work-from-home, and meetings and events were held online. This led to a significant increase in screen time. In March 2020, a person’s average screen time increased by 60% to more than 13 hours a day, Eyesafe Nielsen reported.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Christopher Starr of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York warned of the dangers of excessive screen time during his appearance at “CBS This Morning.”
Starr said that the “computer vision syndrome” results from a combination of eye strain from staring at screens for long hours and drier eyes caused by less blinking.
“When we are on the computer… we are also staring and not blinking as much. The blink rate, which is normally about 16-18 times a minute, decreases by about 50% to maybe eight blinks a minute,” he explained.
Starr continued, “The tears evaporate, and we get these dry spots, and the eyes get drier and drier and redder and more irritated and more gritty as the day goes on, and that leads to fluctuations in vision and blurred vision and of course the eye strain can cause headaches and all this. So the computer vision syndrome is a real problem, especially in the post-COVID-19 era.”
Eye strain can also cause headaches and pain around the eyes.
While most people are aware of the dangers of increased screen time, several turned to alternatives that don’t help much, such as using glasses that block blue light.
Starr explained that taking breaks away from the screen is more important and is “the real key here, not so much glasses or filters over your screens.”
The most recommended form of break is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away and at an object at least 20 feet away from you for about 20 seconds or more. It’s also better if you close your eyes for 20 seconds.
Nevertheless, exposure to blue light from computer screens and other gadgets can stimulate the eyes and make it harder for you to fall asleep. So if you have blue light glasses or are considering getting one, you can use these when you’re ready to hit the hay.
“We usually recommend blocking blue light at night when you are trying to go to bed,” Starr said. “Ideally, no devices in the bedroom at all, but if you are going to have to look at your phone or your computer, you should dim the blue lights.”
You can also choose to turn on the “night mode” on your gadgets to shift to a yellower light that feels easier on the eyes.
Source: CBS News