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How Digital Devices Can Affect Ocular Comfort

December 30, 2021
Posted By: Envision Optical
Friends | Optometrist in Tweed Heads

Digital eye strain and dry eye have become seemingly unavoidable parts of daily life, especially in the age of ever-evolving technology. Various aspects of our modern world are linked to digital devices, such as phones, televisions, computers and more. woman looking at computer in tweed heads

However, constantly staring at digital screens can take a toll on our eye health and vision. According to Contact Lens Update (CLU), there’s an increased risk of dry eye with the use of digital screens, and people tend not to blink nearly as much, which disrupts our tear production. 

How Digital Screens Can Affect Our Eyes

Digital screens emit high-energy blue light that reaches deeply into the eye. Because of its stimulating nature, blue light can cause eye strain and affect your circadian rhythm, impacting your ability to sleep. 

Adults and children alike use digital devices on a daily basis, whether it’s phones, computers, televisions or tablets. Hours of digital use continue to increase over time—for work, social media, education and leisure. In addition, many people commonly use multiple devices over the course of the day and even simultaneously. 

Vision 2020 Australia says that about 80 per cent of teenagers experience significant eye strain after using digital devices for two or more straight hours. 

Also, nearly 70 per cent of children between ages three and five use computers regularly, on an average of almost three hours each day. The average time kids aged eight to 18 spend on digital devices each day amount to nearly eight hours! 

These figures may seem staggering, but it’s the norm in our world today. Though there are many educational benefits to using digital devices, studies have shown that constant use of digital devices is a risk factor for dry eye disease (DED) and other issues. 

Dry Eye Disease 

Contact Lens Update states that using digital devices can lead to blinking abnormalities, such as reduced blinking rate and incomplete eye closure. Also, according to CLU, people who spend four or more hours a day on a digital device experience dry eye symptoms and reduced meibomian gland expression. 

Symptoms of dry eye disease include:

  • Dry, inflamed or red eyes 
  • Discomfort 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Gritty sensation in the eye 

Increased use of digital displays can damage the meibomian glands and affect tear production in the long term, says CLU

Meibomian glands are along the edge of the eyelids near the eyelashes. These glands produce an oily layer outside of the tear film that moisturizes the eye. 

Abnormal blinking can change the meibomian glands, which:

  • Affects the glands’ ability to produce meibum
  • Increases the likelihood of blockage in the glands 
  • Long-term inflammation 
  • Increased internal pressure 

All of these symptoms can damage the eye’s internal structure and health. 

Digital Eye Strain 

Vision 2020 Australia states 80 per cent of children report eye strain when using digital devices. Symptoms of eye strain are:

  • Fatigue or weakness of the eye 
  • Eye pain 
  • Headaches 
  • Dry eyes 
  • Focusing issues 

Digital eye strain and DED often go hand-in-hand, affecting visual comfort and proper function. 

How to Protect Your Eyes in the Digital Age

There are many ways to protect your eyes from digital-related issues. 

#1 The 20-20-20 Rule 

The 20-20-20 Rule is essential when using digital devices, such as phones, tablets or laptops. This is how it works:

Take a 20-second break from screens every 20 minutes and look at an object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

#2 Receive Routine Eye Exams for Optical Health 

The key to maintaining healthy eyes is to visit your optometrist for routine exams. During these exams, your optometrist can check for any potential eye issues, provide treatment and stop problems in the earliest possible stages. 

#3 More Tips for Healthy Digital Screen Use 

Additional tips for preventing or managing digital eye strain and dry eyes include:

  • Use artificial tears or eye drops to moisturize your eyes. 
  • Adjust the room’s lighting so it’s not so abrasive on your eyes. 
  • Use proper eyewear, such as blue-light glasses. 
  • Limit screen time. 
  • Improve your room’s air quality, such as a humidifier, to keep moisture in the air. 
  • Be aware of blinking ability, including if you experience incomplete blinking. man at cafe | Tweed heads optometrist
  • Assess and manage any early changes to your eye comfort and vision. 

Your Tweed Heads Optometrist Welcomes Your Call

Envision Optical in Tweed Heads and Burleigh Waters welcomes your call regarding eye health and digital device use. Your optometrist Dr Andrew Bowden can provide you with a treatment plan that works for you and improves your eye health and vision. 

We are pleased to serve families and neighbours in all surrounding areas. Our team is dedicated to helping you and your loved ones attain optimal eye health. 

Andrew Bowden and our team invite you to give us a call at your convenience to arrange your eye and vision exam at Envision Optical.

We look forward to seeing you soon!