Promise me that after you’ve read this post, you will take a break from staring at screens. I say this because I want to save your eyesight.
In the last couple weeks, I have developed the worst eye strain. I’m talking bloodshot, puffy eyes that sting with dryness like the fiery pits of hell. I look like one giant disease-ridden pink-eyed stoner.
Because I am a screen addict.
Why this matters
Spending an average of 6 hours writing on my laptop each day, watching shows while jogging on the treadmill, scrolling through social media in the bathroom, Netflixing and YouTubing with my husband in the evenings, and reading ebooks on my phone in bed definitely put me in the danger zone for health problems. In fact, I’m pretty much guaranteed them. *shudder*
Eye issues are on the rise. Neck issues are on the rise. Sleep issues are on the rise. Because we can’t put our damn screens down. Because blue light is destroying our retinas.
Too much blue light exposure, emitted from smartphones, computer screens, and tablets, damages retinal cells and can lead to macular degeneration (aka vision loss). This is serious; it affects our kids as much as it affects us — more, actually, because they have a head start on us.
Too much screen time has been linked to all kinds of health concerns: sleep issues, obesity, neck and back pain, attention and coping deficits, nerve damage, and cardiovascular disease.
I don’t know about you, but I want to stay in good health for as long as possible.
Here’s what you can do
1. Limit your screen time (obviously). The more time you spend on screens, the more glare and blue-light exposure you get. I’ve stopped bringing my phone to the bathroom. I write in a notebook 1/3 of the time. I’ve started listening to audiobooks in bed. And I resist checking my phone every time I walk by it. Take frequent breaks, at the very least.
2. Put the screens away. The old adage really does ring true: Out of sight, out of mind. When I put my phone in the drawer I don’t check it nearly as often as when I leave it sitting on the counter.
3. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you’re on a screen, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eye muscles relax.
4. Make a conscious effort to blink more. We blink 15–20 times per minute, but that number decreases to half when we’re fixated on a screen. This leads to hella dry eyes and eye strain.
5. Invest in computer glasses. If you have the funds to invest in a decent pair, I highly recommend doing so. The yellow tinted lenses limit how much blue light reaches the retina; anti-glare and anti-reflective coatings are super important, too.
6. Use screen filters. These provide the same benefits as computer glasses do, except you can tailor them to your devices.
We need to stop ignoring this
We hear about the negative effects of our digital lifestyles all the time, which I think actually desensitizes us to the information. But the negative consequences of our screen-filled lives is having very real, very permanent effects on us and our children.
So if you are experiencing any digital eye strain symptoms — or better still, if you aren’t yet — start taking action now by committing to some or all of the practices I’ve listed in this post. Do it before it is too late.