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Eyesight and increased screen time: Expert tips for protecting your vision

Eyesight and increased screen time: Expert tips for protecting your vision
(Image credit: Getty)

Vision experts from spectacle lens manufacturer Essilor are warning people not to ignore their eye health during current and future coronavirus lockdowns, or else they may risk noticeable eyestrain. The warning is based on data gathered by UK communications regulator Ofcom, during the country’s first national lockdown in April. Stats showed that over 40% of adults were glued to a device for over four hours a day, and it was a similar story here in America.

According to a study published in July, Americans were exposed to around four hours and 33 minutes of screen time a day on average, most notably on smartphones, and that was on top of any screens they would normally use for work. As such, Essilor’s eye experts are now warning people to take extra precautions to avoid risking eye discomfort and visual fatigue, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome. 

While some of the best eyeglasses online brands sell blue lenses that claim to reduce digital eye strain, it isn’t so common among contact lenses. However, there are steps you can take to protect your eye health, regardless of whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. If you don’t yet have coverage, also take a look at our guide to the best vision insurance.

How to protect your eyes from Computer Vision Syndrome

Essilor’s Dr Andy Hepworth, BSc, explains that, “Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a condition resulting from looking at a digital device for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time; because the screen distance will make eyes work harder amplified by pixels constantly refreshing and the eyes must constantly refocus to see the screen clearly. The muscles within the eye are unable to recover from the strain.” 

We naturally blink less when staring at screens, whether that’s our laptop or home computer. The less we blink, the dryer our eyes come, the itchier they may feel, and some of us may even experience blurred vision. Interestingly, Dr Hepworth says that if you have incorrect or outdated prescription lenses, you could be more susceptible to CVS.

Eyesight and increased screen time: Expert tips for protecting your vision

(Image credit: Getty)

“Signs of CVS are often overlooked, but left unchecked,” explains Dr Hepworth, “and they could lead to longer term eye health issues. Symptoms include eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain. If you’re suffering from any of these ailments, contact your local optician for an eye exam.”

The good news is that CVS is not permanent, and can be managed with some simple changes. With that in mind, these are Essilor’s top tips for better digital eye health…

Practice ‘Eye Yoga’ to prevent eye strain

This involves taking regular breaks from your screen - yes, even your phone - and giving your eyes a gentle workout. ‘Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Or take part in eye yoga: Look to the left, hold the position, repeat looking right. Look up, hold the position, repeat looking down. Repeat four times, closing your eyes and relaxing in between.’

Maintain regular eye tests 

‘Having regular eye tests and wearing the right corrective prescription lenses is the most important way you can protect your sight. By keeping on top of your optician appointments, you can maintain one of the most important senses we have and see as clearly as possible, for as long as possible.’ Although it can seem more difficult to get to the opticians in the middle of a pandemic, many are still open, and some even offer tele-appointments for general enquiries if you can’t get to a store.

Take a break and go outdoors

‘It’s important to take a break from screens and to go outside. Looking at objects in different distances and in natural light can be beneficial for your eyes and sight.’ In addition to giving you eyes a break from staring at screens, there are proven mental health benefits of being in nature, making this is a great choice for enhancing your wellbeing too. 

Use lenses to combat CVS

‘Eyezen lenses, with DualOptim technology, are specialist ‘computer lenses’, designed to reduce eye strain or visual fatigue. Wearing these lenses can support your eyes from working so hard especially when using digital devices.’