Learn about the effects of prolonged digital screen time and tips to reduce your risk of digital eye strain and keep eyes healthy!
One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to stay entertained and connected at home is definitely through technology aka electronic gadgets and being glued to the telly.
Since social distancing measures have been in place, a survey conducted on iPhone users showed a significant increase of time – up to 200%1 spent on their device.
Home-based learning also means students unavoidably are required to spend more time on computers and tablets as part of their home-based learning curriculum.
While technology and electronic devices have undeniably become a part of our daily lives, with most of us feeling handicapped without our devices, it is important to remember that for the sake of our eyes, you need to take regular breaks in-between to give your eyes a rest from the screen.
Effects of Prolonged Screen Time
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) happens when you use the computer or face a digital screen for prolonged periods of time2. Some other factors such as poor ambient lighting, inappropriate distance between eyes and the screen, as well as poor seating posture can also contribute to CVS. CVS symptoms include:
- Eye Strain
- Dry Eyes
- Blurry Vision
- Neck and Shoulder Strain/Pain
If you find yourself still glued to your digital device even when it is late at night, you are affecting the quality and amount of sleep that you are getting. Even when you eventually put down your device and try to sleep, your mind is still in a stimulated mode which makes it harder for your mind to switch to “sleep mode”. If possible, try to avoid using your phone at least half an hour to an hour before your usual bed time to allow your mind to slip in relax & sleep mode.
Furthermore, blue light emitted by electronic devices can delay your body’s “sleep clock” and can suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, making it harder for someone to fall asleep or stay asleep3.
Undesired Weight Gain
Instead of staying sedentary (which is most likely the case when using electronic devices), why not set aside some time for light exercise, think skipping rope or just walking around the house to keep your metabolism revved? Staying in a stationary position for extended periods of time does nothing for your overall metabolism and increases your risk of undesired weight gain.
Tips on Managing Screen Time and Keeping Eyes Healthy
For your eye health and overall well-being, we’ve put together some tips on how you can limit screen time!
1. Take Regular Breaks from the Screen
Get up from your seat – grab a drink of water or cut yourself some fresh fruits! You could also follow the 20-20-20 rule, which is to take a 20 seconds break from the screen every 20 minutes, and look at something 20 feet away. 20 feet is a little hard to measure in a home environment, so try looking out your window at a tree or lamp post.
2. Mealtime = Device-free Family Time
We live in a highly connected society thanks to digital platforms, but we often forget to connect with those closest to us who are sitting right in front of us. With enough screen time clocked up through work, games and browsing of social media, why not make it a point to put away your devices during meals and instead launch into a lively chat with your family members while enjoying your food.
3. Avoid Hand-to-Eye Contact
As your hands accumulate germs from the objects you touch throughout the day, avoid rubbing eyes with your hands as it could cause infections. Washing and sanitising your hands properly before you touch your eyes (example to put on and remove your contacts lens) can eliminate germs and prevent the transfer of bacteria from your hands to your eyes.
4. Pick up a New Hobby
While work-from-home is still on-going, make the most of your spare time. Pick up a hobby, preferably something that does not involve a screen. Find out if you have green fingers, or put together a floral arrangement to enliven your living room. Engage in baking/cooking to unlock your hidden chef talents! Read a book (printed version if you can) or on a reading device that emits reduced blue rays. If you enjoy crafts, you could also order DIY kits to level up your craft skills! Resist the temptations of Netflix and gaming throughout the day. Your eyes will surely thank you for the favour.
5. Eat Foods Good For Eye Health
A well-balanced and healthy diet contributes to good eye health! Include foods such as egg yolks, spinach, kale and berries like blueberries and blackberries. These foods are rich in lutein, a type of carotenoid that protects against macular degeneration. Salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent dry eyes. Vitamin A helps to safeguard the cornea while zinc supports Retina health, and can be found in eggs and dairy products. Vitamins C & E can help to ward off age-related vision problems, and can be found in citrus fruits and nuts like almonds respectively.
6. Take an Eye Health Supplement
If the nutrients above are lacking from your diet, taking eye health supplements are a convenient way to support overall eye health with their effective amounts of nutrients! LAC Berry Clear® is rich in antioxidants such as lutein & zeaxanthin and phytonutrients which help nourish the blood vessels supplying nutrients and oxygen to your eyes, and contain Eyebright Extracts that relieve tired, dry and strained eyes. Children can opt to take LAC Berry Clear® Junior which combines an antioxidant-rich berry mix to support healthy eyes and comes in tasty berry-flavour powdered form that melts in the mouth!
1iPhone users spend an increase of up to 200% on their device: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/coronavirus-screen-time-phone-use-iphone-a9433251.html
2 Computer Vision Syndrome: https://www.bausch.com/your-eye-concerns/eye-infections-irritations/computer-vision-syndrome-cvs
3 How blue light affects sleep: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed