- Too much screen time can cause eye fatigue
- Excessive screen time can cause dry eyes
- Too much screen time can cause blurred vision
World Sight Day 2020: October 8 is observed as World Sight Day. This day is meant to raise awareness about ways to improve eyesight and eye health. Ever since governments across the world imposed restrictions on movements to curb spread of COVID-19, people have been adapting to new ways of socialising and communicating. This has made many dependant on technology, that has in turn increased the screen time. Excessive screen time weakens the brain's ability to process information, focus, make decisions and control thoughts and goes without saying, has an adverse effect on the eyes.
World Sight Day: How too much screen time can affect your eyes
Since the mind and the body of children are still developing, the effects of screen addiction in children is worse. The short term health impacts in children due to elevated screen times can be seen as fatigue, several eye problems, headache, muscle aches due to prolonged bad posture. The blue rays/ lights radiated from the electronic devices like TV screens, laptop/computer screens, mobile phones, tabs etc., leads to strain in the eyes causing them to age early. This is a common eye problem caused due to dim lighting, glare from the screens and short viewing distances. It can cause several eye related issues like dry eyes, persistent irritation causing redness in the eyes and blurred eyesight.
- Eye fatigue- It is important we give our eyes screen breaks so that eye fatigue can be managed. With prolonged close focus and attention, the eyes tend to experience strain.
- Irritation in the eyes- Long duration of screen time can cause dryness in the eyes leading to persistent itching and irritation. It is human nature that we blink less when concentrating on a screen that leads to dryness in the eyes. The problem can be worse for children who look up at a screen that is positioned for adult use.
- Loss of focus and blurred vision- Often when children have been looking at the screen for a long duration, they find it difficult to set their focus on any other object for a few seconds. While this is a temporary problem, it can worsen with time if screen time is not managed properly.
Digital eyestrain often leads to dry eyes and puts an extra burden on the muscles that help the eye focus. Also, the eyes do not blink as frequently when looking at digital devices, which causes faster disruption and evaporation of the film of tears that protects the surface of the eye. That can cause minor eye irritations such as burning and stinging.
It is important to reduce screen time to make sure that the mental and physical health of the child is not impacted.
Few practices that can be adopted to facilitate healthy screen time in children are:
- Plan your child's day in a manner that has time dedicated for screen time as well as physical activities
- Ensure that the child is not exposed to screens in the form of mobile phone, tablets or TV sets before going to bed
- Ensure the overhead lighting is not very bright, to avoid any glare on the screen
- Ensure that your child takes screen breaks every 15-20 minutes
- Keep the computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eye level and adjust the display settings of your device to reduce eye strain and fatigue
(Dr Uma Mallaiah, Senior Consultant, Ophthalmology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals)
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