Are Screens Bad for Your Eyes?


Can phone and computer screens hurt your eyes?

With the prevalence of smartphones, computers, and tablets, there has been no shortage of debate surrounding how this constant exposure might be affecting our health. It’s a reasonable question, being that adults in America are spending upwards of 9 hours per day looking at screens according to a 2017 report from Common Sense Media.

One of the biggest topics of discussion is how screen time can confuse our internal clocks, ultimately hurting our sleeping habits. There’s also been a lot of talk about how this affects our psychology, most notably our attention span and concentration.

But what about our eye health?

Is all of this constant staring at screens possibly damaging our eyes? Was Grandma right when she yelled at us to not sit so close to the TV (or else)?

Let’s take a look at the research.

What the Research Says About Screens and Eye Health

Prolonged focus on screens can undoubtedly cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dry Eye
  • Blurred Vision
  • Eye Strain

It seems natural, then, that this prolonged exposure could be causing some serious, long-term damage.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t seem to be the case, as there is currently no evidence that supports the theory that screens can cause long-term damage to your eyes.

Ultimately, this is great news for most of us, especially those whose jobs revolve around working on screens all day.

That said, the symptoms mentioned above can be extremely frustrating, and they actually constitute what the American Optometric Society refers to as Computer Vision Syndrome. Oftentimes, this is a more severe problem for those with existing eye conditions, worsening the symptoms and at times making them unbearable.

However, there are a number of things you can do to mitigate screen-related aches and pains.

How to Manage Screen-Related Symptoms

While you might have heard about the special glasses that are supposed to filter out blue light, there’s not much evidence to suggest that these actually work.

Instead, most of the ways to deal with symptoms related to prolonged screen time have to do with simple behavioral changes, as well as the setup of your computer.

Here are a few practical tips:

  • Don’t forget to blink! When staring at a screen for a long time, it can be easy not to blink as much as you typically would, which can cause dry eye. Consider writing yourself a post-it note that reminds you to keep blinking and stick it on the side of your screen.
  • Minimize glare. When your lighting is positioned in such a way that it causes screen glare, it can be particularly stressful on your eyes.
  • Periodically rest your eyes. The most reliable way of keeping your eyes relaxed is to take periodic rests from looking at your screen. The easiest way to remember this is to follow the 20-20-20 rule: look away from your screen for 20 seconds at an object 20 feet away every 20 minutes. Easy, right?

Looking for Help with Your Eye Health? Get in Touch!

At Northern Vision, we’re completely focused on helping our patients achieve optimal eye health and comfort. If you’re struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned here or are simply looking for a great eye care center you can trust with your eye health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!