During the past year, all of North America increased their amount of time online and therefore, in front of a screen. Here in the Ottawa region many of us, including our kids, doubled, even tripled time spent in front of a computer or TV.

This article will explore how screens affect your vision as well as offer solutions for the eye strain you might be feeling.

Before discussing how blue light affects your eye health, it’s important to point out that many studies still need to be done before we fully understand its effects. Current research does show that extensive exposure to blue light could damage some cells in the retina. This can lead to eye strain and problems focusing. However, years of continued research are still needed to confirm that blue light causes permanent or long-term damage, or eye disease.

Different hues of light affect us differently. Blue wavelengths are beneficial during the day, since it increases our attention span, and reaction times. It’s also been shown to put us in a good, energetic mood. That’s why watching TV right before bed isn’t recommended.

Harvard recently released a study where they gradually adjusted the timing of their blue light exposure. They found more than our circadian rhythms were affected. Increased exposure to blue light before bed showed people in the study were thrown into a prediabetic state, with increased blood sugar levels. The late-night exposure also caused their leptin levels to decrease, which is the hormone that allows you to feel full after a meal.

We know that (at least) 60% of North Americans experience Digital Eye Strain (DES), so it’s wise to take some precautions.
– Blue Light Blockers are recommended to wear while working at the computer or watching tv.
– Use dim red or deep yellow lights at night. The red light helps prevent your circadian rhythm from shifting.

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are laxing and businesses in the Ottawa region are opening again, we’re able to start spending more time away from the screens. We can go to gym instead of doing an online fitness class. We can go out to dinner with friends, instead of eating in front of the TV. However, researchers are worried that many of us won’t decrease our screen time because we’ve grown accustomed to its convenience. Some have even become addicted. Additional studies from Harvard have found; the act of scrolling through a social media news feed releases serotonin, making us addicted to the action.

All this screen time has a negative effect on our eye health and our general well-being. DES has been shown to cause tired dry eyes, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, blurred vision and more. With that in mind, it’s important to take steps to decrease our screen time and to protect us from the screen usage we need.
– DECREASE GLARE: When light is reflected, it creates a glare. Using an anti-glare screen on your display will significantly reduce eye strain at the end of the day.
– USE PROPER LIGHTING: Whether it’s a computer screen, the sun or a lamp, bright lights cause eye strain. If you’re on your computer at night, reduce its brightness, and increase the light around you. Use a soft white during the day and a red light in the evening.
– REST YOUR EYES: Working on a computer causes your eyes to focus and remain focused throughout the day. It’s best to rest your eyes at least once per hour. Simply looking away from your screen and scanning the walls or something in the distance for :30 will improve how your eyes feel. The same could be said for any activity that requires intense, up close focus such as needle point.

If you’ve tried these tips but are still experiencing eye strain and headaches, we’re happy to help. Our comprehensive eye exams will help spot any problems or damage in the eye and can help reduce the discomfort you’ve been experiencing.