Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, changing the way we access entertainment, education, and work. Still, despite its usefulness, there are certainly downsides to constant technology usage. A survey of UK office workers revealed that modern working practices are negatively impacting employees’ eye health — 40% of workers admitted to working in front of screens for more than two hours without a break. 84% of UK employees work much longer than 20 minutes without taking a break.
Unfortunately, too much screen time can be detrimental to our eye health as a result. In the UK, more than 2 million people are living with vision impairments, which is why wearing the right glasses is so important. Good prescription glasses for vision correction will have blue light-blocking lenses, which can help relieve eye strain from too much screen time. Eyewear brands like Oakley even offer specific frames that are headset-compatible, taking into consideration the typical activities we do when on a screen, such as listening to music or watching movies.
Clearly, we are already adapting to how we manage screen time. Still, it’s essential to recognise that there are other effects — even positive ones — of technology on eye health. Below, we’ll look at some of them in an attempt to balance between the positives and negatives of using technology for our eye health:
As discussed in the introduction, technology can significantly harm our eyes if we use them without proper care and screen safety practices. Here are some of the negatives to consider:
Digital eye strain
According to opticians, spending more than three hours a day looking at your phone, computer, or tablet is enough time to cause eye disorders and serious visual problems.
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain happens due to exposure to digital screens’ intense light and glare. The typical symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eye fatigue, which presents as blurred vision, tired eyes, and dry eyes. Studies have shown that when we use a screen, we tend to blink less, causing our eyes to get dry and sore.
Too much screen time can also lead to headaches as a result of the intense light and pressure on the eyes. This makes focusing more difficult and, in the long term, can result in photophobia — a hypersensitivity to natural and artificial light.
Finally, overexposure to the screen can also result in other worrying health conditions, such as a lack of sleep and mood changes. This is why experts recommend taking frequent breaks from the screen and using appropriate eyewear to provide eye protection. This is especially important if you use screens for many hours daily.
On the bright side, we are now looking into how technology can be used for eye care and mitigate threats to eye health. Here are some ways we’re putting technology to good use:
AI and digital health
These days, many digital technologies and innovations have been introduced to help ease healthcare operations and services. The same applies to eye care. A study on artificial intelligence (AI) and digital health highlights the use of AI, telemedicine, virtual reality, and wireless communication technologies to help transform eye care. This includes facilitating and increasing access to eye care and technologies supporting clinical decision-making objectively and through a data-driven approach.
Thanks to digital tech and internet connectivity, more people can easily access and acquire eyewear by virtually trying it on. People can also automatically update their prescriptions online to ensure their glasses are still correcting vision problems. Additionally, telehealth makes it easier for people to consult their eye doctors remotely for concerns about their eyes or vision.
While we’ve still got some ways to go for digital tech to transform the way we access eye care, it has undoubtedly made it easier for people to access education and information about essential eye conditions.
Self-care apps and features
Outside of eye care, many smartphone and computer apps and platforms today offer self-care features that help remind people if they spend too much time in front of a screen.
Thankfully, many self-control apps today can help people not only monitor their screen time but set reminders to take breaks as well. These apps help cultivate healthier habits and ensure you aren’t staying sedentary alongside overexposure to digital screens.
Most gadgets and devices today also have built-in features such as a night- or dark mode that adjusts colours and lighting on a screen to be less painful or straining for the eyes. While a seemingly trivial feature, this can help prevent eye strain and squinting for people who may be more sensitive to light.
We can see, then, how technology can both harm and benefit our eyes. Striking a balance and trying to find solutions through technology are key to protecting our vision moving forward in the digital age.
Author: Corinne Maxwell.