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Safer use of computer screens

Did you know that the average time we spend looking at tablet, laptop and television screens at close range is now 6 hours a day? Add in the time we spend looking at our mobile phones and that’s a lot of screen viewing. In the USA an adult will spent 2 hours 51 minutes each day on their phone and this will be higher for teens and young adults.

Sometimes there is little we can do to reduce the time spent using screens, for example if we work in an office setting but other hours spent on computer games at weekends and in school holidays are optional. We need to learn to look after our eyes if we use screens for extensive periods of time.

All this screen and computer use means more people experience discomfort from dry eyes, irritation and fatigue or more serious issues including headaches and sometimes blurred vision. The blue light generated by screens can also interrupt our normal, healthy REM sleep patterns leading to increased insomnia. These symptoms are often worse if we spend a lot of time using a mobile phone screen because the size of the text we’re focussing on is so much smaller.

Helen Tilley at Monnow Eyecare explains why we need to be careful about the time we spend using electronic devices. “In the longer-term people with higher screen usage are more likely to develop myopia or near sightedness. Recent research shows that people who spend more time out of doors are less likely to develop myopia in later life than those who spend more time indoors. Our children are particularly susceptible to developing eyesight problems from using screens for extended periods of time as they lack the self-awareness to detect abnormalities. In some cases, this leads to spasms because the eyes lock onto one particular distance for a long time.”

Tips for looking after your vision when using electronic screens

  • Blink frequently to moisturise your eyes
  • Follow the 20-20 rule – look 20 ft away from your screen every 20 minutes
  • If possible, limit the time spent using a screen
  • Position your computer screen between 40 and 76cm away from you
  • Consider buying a larger screen for use when working long hours at a computer
  • Reduce the brightness setting of your screens to cut down the glare
  • Set up the ‘night time’ screen setting on your phone to reduce the blue light you see in the evenings
  • Ask your optician about having glasses specifically designed for your use with computer screens.

If you have any questions about using screens feel free to ask our eye experts at Monnow Eyecare or arrange an appointment for a regular eye check-up. You can drop into our practice on Cinderhill Street in Monmouth, phone us on 01600 715299  or book an appointment online here.

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