The average New Zealander spends seven or more hours a day looking at their screens - smart phones, tablets, LED monitors, and flat-screen TVs. This overexposure to blue light – high-energy visible light emitted from digital devices – can lead to digital eye strain, sleep problems, blurred vision, headaches and neck and shoulder pain, among other things.
During March's 2019 Save Your Vision Month, the following tips explore ways to protect your eyes and monitor digital screen usage while at home and work:
1. Turn off your digital devices off at least one hour before bed:
The LED screen of computers and other digital devices emit a broad spectrum of visible light. Most of the light rays are harmless, but a portion of the light emitted by these screens is relatively high-energy vision light called "blue light", which plays an important role in regulating the body's circadian rhythm (our body's internal clock). It is believed that blue light from screens has a similar effect to caffeine and can affect your sleep cycle.
Blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength of light. Studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light from digital devices can, therefore, disrupt a person's normal sleep/wake cycle, which can have serious health consequences.
For this reason, people who look at their phones or other digital screens shortly before going to bed can experience sleep disruption and can find it more difficult to fall asleep at a normal time. Sleep disruption can be especially problematic, leading to daytime drowsiness and reduced productivity and performance at work.
2. 20-20-20 rule:
Taking regular breaks is the most effective way to protect your vision and maintain eye comfort throughout your day. This can be done by observing the 20-20-20 rule, which states that for every 20 minutes spent using a screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds.
3. Blink More:
When working on a computer, most people tend to blink about one third less frequently than when they are not starting at a computer screen. In addition to blinking less, many blinks performed during computer work are often only partial lid closures. Therefore, to help make your eyes feel more comfortable while working, blinking more frequently can help to moisten your eyes and prevent dryness and irritation by providing your eyes with essential nutrients and moisture.
4. Step back:
Maintain a comfortable working distance from your digital device by using your zoom feature to see small print and details, rather than bring the device closer to your eyes, especially when reading or composing long documents. Also increasing the contrast of the text (black print on a white background) helps reduce eye strain.
5. Adjust your device to fit your needs:
Brightness: To reduce eye strain, it is important to adjust the brightness to match the surrounding workspace brightness. In order to achieve this, look at the white background of this page. The computer screen is too bright if it appears to be the light source in the room. On the other hand, if the screen appears to be dull and grey, the computer's brightness display settings are most likely too dark. If you work in a shiny reflective workplace, applying a glare reduction filter to your computer screen can also offer relief from glare.
Colour temperature: Adjusting your monitors colour temperature settings is another way in which to reduce eye strain. Blue light is a short-wavelength visible light that is more closely associated with eye strain compared to the longer wavelength hues, including orange and red. To achieve better long-term viewing comfort in front of your computer screen, reducing the colour temperature of the display to lower the amount of blue light emitted.
One of the most convenient ways to optimise the colour temperature is to use the free app called 'F.lux.' This useful app uses the computer's location to automatically correct the monitor display to the pre-determined colour temperatures to match the real-time lighting conditions depending on whether the sun is up or down. Some computers have this facility built in.
6. Wear lenses specifically for computers:
Computer glasses differ from regular glasses in that they are specifically made to optimise your eyesight for computer distance, making it easier to look at digital screens for long periods of time.They can be made with an anti-reflective coating and tint to increase the contrast and reduce glare — maximising what you see through the lenses. The visual zones are accurately customised to the centre of your pupils which increase comfort and they can be individualised in other ways to meet your own personal requirements.
7. Schedule an appointment:
Unfortunately, most of us take our vision for granted and don't think about actual eye care until something goes wrong. Therefore, this month serves as an important reminder to schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam to prevent or treat vision problems.
Most especially, if you are experiencing digital eye strain or any issues related to your eye health, be sure to schedule an appointment at Auckland Eye with one of our eye specialist asap. In addition to examining the health of your eyes, they will be able to offer good advice to help you improve comfort, maintain optimal eye health and reduce strain.
To book an appointment at Auckland Eye call 0800 25 53 93.