There are so many ways that technology helps us in our every day lives. It helps keep us informed on the local and global news, allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones no matter where they are, and even helps us find our way if we get lost (thank goodness for GPS). But, how much is technology hurting us? Studies show that the average American spends 9 hours a day looking at some sort of computerized screen. For most people, that’s a typical workday and then some tinkering on the computer or smartphone in their downtime. It’s not easy to avoid something that has become so ingrained in our every day lives, but I wanted to discuss the ways the all this technological interaction is harming our eyes.
Technology is Causing Digital Eye Strain
I’ve talked in the past about blue light and digital eyestrain. Although blue light is natural in nature’s light spectrum, it’s not safe to be consistently looking at a computer screen. Not only does this kind of light effect the amounts of melatonin your body is secreting, causing you not to get a good night’s sleep, but it also causes your eyes to work way harder than they’re used to. Often times when looking at a computer screen, your pupils shrink and as they get smaller, your muscles adjust and cause your eyes to converge.
Technology is Stopping Us from Blinking
Blinking is a natural process for the eyes and it’s how we manage to keep our eyes well lubricated. When we are looking at a computer screen, the instinct telling us to blink doesn’t occur as often and our blink rate slows down. A slower blink rate means dryer eyes, which in turn can lead to burning and itching and general discomfort.
Technology is Giving Us Headaches
Remember how above I mentioned that to look at a screen, our pupils shrink and our eyes converge? This causes the muscles in our eyes and temples to work overtime. If you’re wondering why you are suffering from headaches after a long day, it very well could be due to the time you spend in front of the computer or on your smart phone.
What Can You Do to Combat Technology?
In a perfect world, we could suggest that you get rid of technology altogether and go back to sending snail mail and telegrams. But we’ve come too far to go back and since technology is allowing us to do some really great things, I don’t want you to give it up.
It’s a good idea to try to limit the time that you spend in front of a screen when you don’t have to be looking at one. If you’re not attending to work, then I suggest looking closely at the time you spend on your computer or other gadgets in your off time and evaluating how you spend your time. Need ideas on what to do outside work? Check out these great New Jersey biking spots or feel free to get artistic by photographing the natural beauty New Jersey has to offer.
Take Frequent Breaks
Now, while using your free time to get offline and outdoors is all well and good, we can’t just not do our jobs, right? Right. However, what we can do is implement regular breaks for our eyes. I recommend using the 20-20-20 method. How this works: you work for 20 minutes, then take a 20 second break to focus on something 20 feet away. Doing this will give your eyes a break from the up close focus on your electronic screen.
Invest in New Eye Technology
For those of us that wear contact lenses or glasses, technology can have a greater effect on our eyes. Did you know that you can get special glasses that are made for reading on the computer? And if you’re tired of wearing glasses altogether, there is always the option of getting LASIK or LASEK eye surgery.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you feel that you’re experiencing a lot of computer eye strain from your use of technology and are uncomfortable and in pain, please contact your ophthalmologist. This is a topic that you should be addressing in your annual eye exam appointment, though most forget to bring it up. Unfortunately, this is something that many people suffer from but luckily for you, that means many doctors are equipped to help you get some relief. If you’re in New Jersey, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation! If you’re curious about how to keep your eyes healthy in general, feel free to read more about vision care on my blog!