Whether it’s smartphones, tablets, TV or computers, advancing tech and constant changes in lifestyle mean that digital screens feature in our day-to-day lives more than ever. In fact, you’re probably reading this article on a digital device of some sort.
Can too much screen time damage your eyes?
Research is ongoing into the effects of blue light from screens on our eyes, but the fact is, there’s no solid evidence that using a digital screen will cause eye damage.
But, that’s not to say that staring at a screen won’t affect your eyes at all – especially if your day involves a lot of screen time. For some people, using a screen will make their eyes irritable, and tired, and might give them a headache or general discomfort around the neck (known as text neck) and shoulders. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to mitigate any discomfort caused by using screens.
How do I protect my eyes from the impact of screens?
Whether it’s eye strain, irritated eyes, headaches or stiff necks, the symptoms associated with digital screens are more often than not associated with how we use them, rather than the screens themselves being the issue. So, it’s important to remember:
- Take breaks: no matter how busy you are or how gripping that boxset is, you need to take breaks from looking at your screen
- Look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
- Blink lots, as we tend to blink much less when using screens
- Stay hydrated: if your eyes feel dry you can use eye drops but the first step is to keep all of your body hydrated, so drink lots of water, especially if you’re in a dry office environment
If you’re still suffering with your eyes while using screens, head over to our eye conditions hub for advice, or speak to your optometrist.
You can find out more about the options available to you in our dedicated resource on varifocal lenses here.
What is blue light? Will it damage my eyes?
We all know the harm that UV rays can do to our skin and eyes which is why we slap on sun lotion and sunglasses as soon as the sun makes an appearance.
Blue light tends to be associated with UV because it’s at the same end of the colour spectrum. There are two types of blue light – natural and artificial. Artificial blue light comes from our digital devices and LED lights but it’s not as strong as natural blue light from the sun. But do blue light glasses really work?
Would blue light lenses help me?
The College of Optometrists says: ‘The best scientific evidence currently available does not support the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses in the general population to improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macula health.’ And this is a position which Specsavers takes too.
The College goes on to add: ‘… there is no strong evidence that blue-blocking spectacle lenses will improve visual performance, alleviate symptoms of eye strain or improve sleep quality. It is also unclear whether blue-light filtering lenses preserve macular health or alter the risks associated with the development or progression of AMD [age-related macular degeneration]1.’
So, with much more research needed into the effectiveness of blue light lenses, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments but at this stage do not offer blue light lenses.
However, there are some other lens options that can help to mitigate the discomfort caused by screen usage in other ways:
UltraClear SuperClean lenses act as screen protection glasses with an anti-reflection treatment that helps to cut down on distracting glare and reflections from screens. You can add this treatment to any of our lenses from single vision to varifocals.
Varifocal lenses seamlessly transition between viewing close up, far away and everything in between. This makes them perfect if you have different prescriptions for driving, using a digital device or reading.
If you’re a varifocal wearer looking for screen protection glasses, our new SuperDigital lenses are a great option if you use handheld digital screens regularly. Unlike traditional varifocals, they are designed with digital screens in mind and the near zone even caters for the closer, higher position we hold our mobile phone.
If you’re an adult aged around 40-55, it might be that you’re feeling the effects of digital eye strain as a result of presbyopia. Presbyopia is a common symptom of your eyes ageing, and it could mean that you begin to experience eye strain more frequently, particularly when using digital screens at a normal reading distance or looking at your phone up-close.
If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, it’s worth booking an appointment with an optician to have a closer look at your eye health.