Don't Go Into the Light

Studies show that the average adult is spending more time in front of various device screens each day. Can device screens ruin your eyes?

A young man is typing on his laptop.According to a 2016 study, the average American spends nearly half their day staring at a screen, approximately 10 hours. Between mobile devices, tablets, e-readers, laptops, desktops and televisions, the possibility of being in front of some sort of screen for an extended period throughout the day is highly likely. Schools, businesses, even cars, are working to digitize our lives, which means more screen time for us and our eyes.

Think about the last time you were in front of a screen for an extended period. Were your eyes sore or dry? Did you experience a headache or period of blurry vision? It might be time to consider what your device screens are doing to your eyes.

It may be harder for adults to limit their screen time, but there are things you can do to keep your eyes from straining too much during the day. You should be sitting 25 inches or an arm’s length away from your screens. Reduce glare by using a matte screen filter and adjust the lighting in the room you’re working in to increase the contrast on your screen.

While there’s limited scientific evidence that blue light from digital screens may cause damage to your eyes, some research has shown that blue light can’t be filtered out by the cornea or lens; it travels directly to the back of the eye. The long-term effects are still being studied. However, a number of studies have found that blue light suppresses melatonin, which helps the body maintain healthy circadian rhythms. This may cause sleep issues. Ask your eye doctor about the availability and benefits of blue lenses.

Your phone and tablet can be set to diminish blue light during certain times of the day. In Apple devices, under Display and Brightness, set your nighttime mode to help diminish blue light during the hours you should be sleeping. For Android users, under Display, filter out your blue light when using your devices close to bedtime.

20-20-20 Rule

Limiting your screen time can be difficult in the digital age, but applying the 20-20-20 rule may decrease eyestrain. The rule states that for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Try setting an alarm on your phone when at work for every 20 minutes to remind you to look away, take a walk or speak with a coworker.

Talk to your primary care physician if you’re experiencing vision problems. For a physician referral to an ophthalmologist, call 1-800-BayCare (1-800-229-2273) or find a doctor near you.

Learn how screen time could affect children.