In today’s digital day and age, the amount of time that we spend on our phones, laptops, and other digital screens has increased manifolds. And why not –digital devices today are an incredible tool to connect with others, keep us informed, and often help to improve our productivity. However, various studies suggest that the more time we spend on screen, the more negative impact it has on our focus, productivity, and, most importantly, our eyes.
Spending excessive time on the computer or smartphones leads to less blinking. When you blink your eyes less, your eyes may become dehydrated, causing issues such as irritation and dryness. In case you use contact lenses, less blinking may induce contact lens-related dryness.
Why is Spending Time on Digital Screens Bad for You?
LED screens of our computers, iPad, smartphones, and other portable digital devices emit a wide spectrum of visible light.  The light rays emitted from these screens contain a portion of relatively-high-energy light rays or blue light, which might harm the light-sensitive retina of your eye over time.
Also, exposure to blue light for an extended period may alter your body’s circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle . In simple terms, too much exposure to blue light from digital screens may disrupt your body’s ability to regulate its normal timings of alertness and sleepiness, over 24 hours.
Eye Issues Due to Working on Screens for Long Hours
There are several mild to severe eye issues that may develop due to working on your computers or surfing on your mobile phone, including:
While working on computers or smartphones, we tend to get too engrossed, staring at the screen without any breaks. Studies show that our eyes need breaks from focusing on close-up objects such as laptop screens. Subsequently, our eyes may experience eye fatigue due to prolonged close-focus attention, glare, and additional eye strain from the screen.
Irritation and Dry Eyes
Extended periods of screen time may also cause irritation and dryness in your eyes. According to studies, individuals across all age groups blink far less often while focusing on a screen. Subsequently, eyes are not able to maintain a clear and stable tear film on their surface, which in turn, may cause unclear vision.
Loss of Focus
You may face difficulty in adjusting your focus to distant objects after staying focused close-up on a screen for long periods.
Impact on sleep
As explained, prolonged screen time well-into the night may disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm , making it problematic for you to fall asleep at a regular time.
Sleep disruption may lead to daytime drowsiness, poor focus at work, weight gain, and obesity-related health issues in more severe cases. You may also experience mood disorders, greater feelings of loneliness, and lower levels of happiness due to excess sleep deprivation.
How Can You Protect Your Eyes?
1. Get an Eye Exam
Undergoing a routine eye exam is your first defence against eye issues due to more prolonged screen time. In case you didn’t have an eye exam for more than a year, you must consult an optometrist near you.
Also, be sure to inform the eye care specialist about how often you work in front of a digital screen – both at home and at work. You must measure the distance between your eyes and the screen of your computer. The optometrist may then prescribe the best contact lenses for you to see clearly and comfortably at a distance.
2. Use Adequate Lighting
Excessive bright light, either from the outdoor sunlight or harsh interior lighting, may affect your eyes negatively. You must limit the exterior light entering into your room by closing window blinds or shades. At the same time, you must lower the intensity of interior lighting by using fewer, low-intensity soft white LED light bulbs. Also, avoid working on your laptop or desktop under bright fluorescent lights as it can lead to sleep dysfunctions .
3. Blink Often
Studies show that blinking fully and regularly helps remoisten the eye’s surface and minimize dry eye symptoms. Our rate of blinking reduces significantly when compared to the standard blinking rate while viewing or working on computers, smartphones, and other digital devices, as per this source . Less blinking often leads to dry eyes, fluctuating unclear vision, and discomfort in the eye.
You must train yourself to blink as per the “20-20-20” rule . Thus, you must look away from your screen every 20 minutes, focusing your eyes on any object kept at a distance of at least 20 feet and for a minimum duration of 20 seconds. Doing this will help relax the focusing muscle of your eye and reduce fatigue. You may also practice blinking after composing/viewing every two or three paragraphs and keep a vial of artificial tears nearby (if prescribed by your optometrist).
4. Consider Computer Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
If you feel persistent irritation and dryness in your eyes while working on your computer, you must consult your optometrist to check if you can benefit from contact lenses such as Bausch+Lomb’s Ultra Contact Lenses, which retains 95% moisture and prevents eye dryness and irritation due to extended use of digital devices. Additionally, using computer eyeglasses may provide respite to your eyes. However, they have a restricted field of vision. Additionally, if you wear a contact lens regularly, you can use an eyeglass with blue-tech to protect your eyes against harmful blue light.
Different types of contact lenses from reputable brands such as Bausch + Lomb allow you to protect your eyes while minimizing most instances of dryness and irritation in your eye. These contact lenses are designed to provide clearer vision while facilitating the dehydration barrier– so that when you use these contact lenses (even for an extended duration), your eyes feel hydrated. However, consult an optometrist before choosing from different types of contact lenses so that you have the best possible option with you.