The digital world is ruining our eyes.
Given all the time we spend connected to electronic devices these days, scientists recommend caution when it comes to the hours devoted each day to staring at computers, tablets, and phones.
Most of the offending screens are backlit with LED light, which as it turns out, is far easier on the eyes than UV light, but the copious hours we spend staring at them has some experts worried.
“All data indicate screens are indeed affecting our eyes,” says Dr. Celia Sanchez-Ramos, a professor at the Department of Optometry and Vision at the Complutense University of Madrid.
And when people experience red eyes, itchiness, and eyestrain after long hours looking at screens, Sanchez-Ramos says to pay attention: these are defense mechanisms signaling potential retina damage.
“All evidence, from in-vitro to animal tests, indicates that the combination of the light emitted from the screens of smartphones, tablets, laptops, consoles and monitors, the intensity of the light, the time exposure (more than eight hours a day), and the distance between the eyes and the screen are creating the ‘perfect storm’ for our eyes,” she said. “These factors are destroying different structures of the eye, in some cases in an irreversible way.”
While it may be impossible these days to avoid so much screen time, there are ways to protect our eyes, Sanchez-Ramos says.
Among them are:
-Reduce light and glare from screens using screen protectors, wearing yellow-tinted computer glasses, and dimming the brightness.
-Keep your distance — sit approximately 20-28 inches from your computer monitor.
– Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
-Use night mode settings on mobile sites/screens. Twitter’s Night Mode paired with iPhone Night Shift is a game changer.
-Make sure your eyes stay moist — dry eyes are an indicator that your eyes are suffering.
– Step away. “The best preventive measure would be to avoid the use of screens,” Sanchez-Ramos says.