It’s no secret that the past two years of the pandemic have led to more screen time, whether it be catching a sneaky episode of your favourite series during the time you’d normally be commuting, scrolling through TikTok, reading your daily dose of news or sitting in never-ending video calls for work!
But how much screen time is ‘okay’ before our eyes start taking strain? Team Naked spends a lot of time behind screens building technology to allow our users to self-service online. So, for us, and our customers, we thought it important to get an expert’s opinion on where the line is when it comes to looking at screens and what can be done to help protect our eyes. Yvette Human from the trendy HelloBril gave us the lowdown.
Q: Do you believe that since working from home, and spending more time looking at screens for longer periods, often with fewer breaks than in the office, more people’s eyesight has deteriorated?
A: Yes I definitely believe so. Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, is a common condition in this digital age. Several other eye health problems have been associated with excessive screen time including dry eye disease (DED) and myopia progression (deterioration of distance vision).
Q: What are some of the symptoms people might experience from digital eye strain?
A: We definitely see an increase in patients who complain about headaches, eye discomfort, visual fatigue and blurry vision.
When examining these patients we, more often than not, pick up problems with the eyes being able to focus. Gazing at the same distance for an extended time can cause the eye’s focusing system to go into a spasm. This condition, called an accommodation spasm, causes blurry vision when looking up from the computer screen.
Q: Does it permanently damage your eyes?
A: An accommodative spasm is not necessarily a permanent condition, however myopic progression (blurred distance vision), also caused by increased screen time, is more permanent.
Digital devices release blue light and research shows blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina, which can lead to early eyesight loss, otherwise known as macular degeneration.
Q: If someone is struggling with digital eye strain, should they get their eyes tested?
A: Yes, and regardless of whether you’re experiencing any problems with your eyes, it is essential to go for a comprehensive eye examination every year, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer or tablet screen. It is important to specifically test for short-sightedness.
Q: Is there anything someone can do with their work/desk setup to improve eye strain?
- Reduce glare by adding an anti-glare filter to your screen.
- Use proper lighting. Excessive bright light from fluorescent lights often causes eye strain. If possible, turn off the overhead fluorescent lights in your office and use “soft white” LED lighting. Your screen should blend with the surrounding light and not pop out.
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Look up from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet (six metres) away for about 20 seconds.
- Be mindful of blinking. When you concentrate while working you tend to blink less. This will cause dry eyes and irritation in the long run.
TIP: Most people hunch in front of screens, which causes strain on your entire body. Place something under your monitor to lift it higher and raise your hand when you’re looking at your phone. The goal is to look straight ahead.
Q: There’s a trend of people purchasing blue blocker glasses. Are these helpful at all?
A: Research has proven that it is necessary to wear blue control lenses when using digital devices to eliminate the harmful exposure of blue light and to reduce glare significantly. As mentioned before, blue light exposure can cause irreversible damage to the retinal layer and also has an effect on serotonin levels in the brain, which can cause disturbances in your sleep patterns.
Q: Is the negative effect of screen time significantly different between looking at a computer screen, a phone screen and a TV screen?
A: The distance of the digital device you are using is also significant. Smartphones have smaller print and because they are used at a closer distance, they put more strain on the accommodative system (the system that controls how clear an object is in front of you). Smartphones and computers are definitely more prone to cause digital eye strain than TVs.
Q: Any other interesting observations or recommendations, on this topic?
A: Wearing glasses, whether prescription or just protective blue control lenses, is a necessity so it might as well be a fun and exciting experience! Invest in a stunning frame that expresses your personality and unique facial features. Your optometrist will recommend the best type of lens to reduce eye strain. Digital devices have become a huge part of our work and daily lives. Do what you can to protect your eyes and wellbeing.
Take care of your eyes and be sure to get them checked regularly
If you think you’re struggling with digital eye strain, HelloBril offers eye tests, beautiful frames and blue blockers – basically the whole shebang! But, if you’re not close to any of their stores, no problem! Go for an eye test at your local optometrist, then hop onto www.hellobril.co.za, choose a few of your favourite frame styles and they’ll ship them to you to try on. Pick the one that vibes with you the most and they’ll handle the rest!
TIP: If you’re looking for the quickest way to cover your new shades, check out Naked’s lightning-fast single item cover. You can insure your glasses in under 30 seconds on the Naked app: you don’t have to make a single phone call.