Whether it’s for play or work, numerous people spend hours a day reading on e-readers, texting, messaging on smartphones, playing on tablets or typing on laptops. But what does this mean for eye health?
There’s no research that shows consistent technology use causes any permanent vision damage . But staring at bright screens for hours on end can lead to smaller-scale issues, said Dr. Richard Shugarman, a volunteer professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami.
Numerous people will go to the ophthalmologist and “complain about their eyes feeling awkward, thinking there’s something wrong with their vision ,” Shugarman told MyHealthNewsDaily. But they don’t always realize ocular discomfort can be a result of too much technology, he said.
Here are some basic eye ailments that can arise from too much screen time:
Amazingly high contrast from lit screens can cause headaches, Shugarman said.
Reading dark print on an extra bright background can lead to spasms of the muscles at the temples, which causes stress headaches, Shugarman said.
That is the reason e-readers like the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook, which are made for long peruses, have black text displayed on a gray background, he said. Reading e-books made for e-readers on a mobile phone, where the screen contrast is not made for long reads, can also produce headaches.
“Dark on gray is easier for reading versus dark on a brighter white,” he said, so it’s important to decrease the contrast if you find yourself developing headaches from trying to read off a screen.
When looking at something in the distance, your eyes naturally blink a certain number of times.
However, flicker rate slows down when you look at things that are nearer to your face, he said, which means tears evaporate more fastly than when you were blinking more frequently.
“You don’t have that kind of windshield-wiper impact of the tears around and keeping a sharp, glossy, comfortable surface” on your eyes, Shugarman said.
So for people who already have drier eyes than the overall population including contact lens wearers whose lenses sit on top of the tear film starring nearly at a screen for long periods can exacerbate dryness and cause itching, strong blinking and grit collection in the eyes, he said.
Not only does blink rate diminish when you look at things very close, but your eyes also converge slightly , Shugarman said. “The pupils get littler, muscles in the eye adjust the size of the lens, and the two eyes have to converge.
Spending hours on a computer or handheld device keeps the eyes converged and strains the eye muscles to cause headaches, Shugarman said. The eyes are normally more comfortable when they are parallel (your eyes are parallel when you look at far separations).
To remedy this issue, look away from the screen a few times an hour to give eye muscles a break and avoid strain, he said.
Pass it on: Spending too more time front of the bright screens from our smartphones, laptops and tablets can cause tension headaches, eye strain and dry eye.