The cruel irony of technology

It is truly a cruel irony: we need technology in our lives as we enter 2015, yet our eyes are struggling to adapt to these screens that we are constantly glued to. It’s obviously not natural to stare into light all day every day but we almost have to do it if we want to stay in the loop.

According a recent US study, half of consumers cannot last a day without their mobile devices – and this makes sense. How often do you hear about people, or even you yourself, waking up in the morning and checking their phone in the morning…the screen in our faces literally only stops for the time we are asleep.

The electronics are emitting a dangerous blue light which has been proven to negatively impact on not only our vision, but our overall health. It’s a major health concern that many of us overlook because we have become so accustomed to using electronics. Just like we protect our eyes from the sun, doctors and health professionals are now telling us to take protective measures for our eyes.

Continual extended screen time can impact your eyes in two major ways:

1. Eye strain

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When we look at a screen, our blink rate drops significantly, and our eyes won’t put up with that for too long without fuss – you’ve probably noticed your eyes watering more or feeling sore. Headaches are also considered as eye strain but just like overuse of electronics, we palm off any headaches as something else.

What to do:

Blink more! It sounds simple and a bit silly, but blinking will help your eyes to stay lubricated. Otherwise, follow the “20-20-20 rule”: every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This exercise engages your distance vision and helps the eye to reset.

 

2. Blue light exposure damage

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This is more serious and shows the true impact that too much technology use can have on our precious eyes. 40, 30 and even 20 years ago, this was barely an issue but now it is a very real and worrying health problem. Blue light is just what it sounds like: it’s a type of light that gives off a blue colour. Blue light is harmful because it’s the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This energy is also able to penetrate all the way to the back of the eye, through the eyes’ natural filters, and that’s the problem.

And it’s not getting any better as the technology we use infiltrates our life more and more, not less. The more we expose ourselves to blue light, the more permanent damage we are causing. Digital eye strain can be helped through the exercises listed above, however blue light exposure is cumulative and not reversible…and can lead to macular degeneration. This is a worry to anyone of any age, but particularly our beloved grandchildren who have been exposed to dangerous lights from a young age.

What to do:

Take steps to protect your eyes by cutting back on digital device use – cut back in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Using a device that omits blue light a couple of hours before you sleep can delay deep REM sleep, meaning you’ll get a better sleep AND improve your eyes and health. When you are bored or waiting, instead try to do a crossword or something that doesn’t require a digital device. Interchange as much as possible.

Also, you can ask your eye doctor/optometrist about lenses that filter out blue light. The lenses have little-to-no tint and can help to minimise the direct blue light exposure that you get throughout the day.

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By keeping in mind a few simple ways to protect our eyes, we can enjoy being able to see and enjoy life for many years to come!

 

Do you feel eye strain when you use your electronic devices? What do you do to stop your eyes from hurting? Tell us below.