Many of us are becoming increasingly attached to our devices; we’re constantly connected, checking for “likes” and messages from friends. The average American worker spends seven hours a day in front of a computer at work. When you add that to the time spent watching TV and staring at mobile devices, it really adds up. This can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS. Symptoms of CVS include eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, blurred vision, headaches and redness.
Experiencing CVS isn’t limited to adults. Many kids now do schoolwork on tablets and use computers to do research and write papers. A recent study shows that 94% of households with children have a computer in the home with internet access. Even more, the average time children spend looking at a screen totals 7.4 hours per day.
What does all this time on screens mean? A study by the Archives of Ophthalmology found that instances of near-sightedness have increased from 25% to 41.6%. Not only that, but a study done by researchers in Australia, the University of Washington, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that excessive computer use can have adverse effects on a child’s physical development including continued exposure to blue light which can have long term effects on retinal tissue, so it’s a good idea to limit exposure to screens throughout the day.
What can you do to limit screen time? Try some of these tips:
Practice the 20/20/20 Rule
For every 20 minutes you look at a screen, take a 20 second break and focus on something at least 20 feet away.
Set a good example
If you’ve got kids or are around children, reminding them to sit less and move more is a good idea, but even better if you can demonstrate this yourself. Children are more likely to cooperate if they see you limiting your screen time as well. Find activities to do together like playing games, drawing or painting, reading a book, or getting outside and being active.
Create a rule for screen time if you have to use your phone or computer throughout the day. It can be helpful to even set reminders for yourself to step away and give your eyes a break during the day. In the evenings, set a time after which you won’t look at your phone again until morning.
Keep screens out of the bedroom
Many people read on their phones up until the moment they go to sleep. Try reading or practicing meditation in bed as a way to relax instead of turning on the TV or checking your email before falling asleep.
Computer Vision Syndrome. American Optometric Association. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome. Accessed May 4, 2018.
Heiting G, Wan L. Computer Vision Syndrome And Children. All About Vision. http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/children-computer-vision-syndrome.htm. Published August 2017. Accessed May 4, 2018.
Kozeis N. Impact of computer use on children’s vision. Hippokratia. October 2009:230-231. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776336/.