The New Normal – Screen Time Edition
This is an unprecedented time for people around the globe. More time at home entails the frequent video calls for work, kids’ remote learning, and if you are like the average American, more time in front of a device. In fact, researchers estimate an increase of about 30% or more since February, when states began enacting Stay-At-Home measures. Doctors are acutely aware of increased usage, since blue light exposure has been linked to damage in the retina and macular degeneration. General screen time is also linked with increased risk for dry eyes, eye fatigue, headaches, and eye strain. Concerned parents and those concerned for their own health are asking for advice on how to limit blue light exposure. Although it seems there is realistically no way to skip it completely, here are some tips:
- Wear glasses, if possible, that are equipped with a form of blue light protection. These can include: photochromatic (Transitions) lens technology (best, even when not activated), select anti-reflective coatings, and/or a special blue light option.
- Ask your doctor about lenses that will help block blue light and cut glare. There are contacts that employ the same technology as Transitions eyeglass lenses as well as other options that work to cut blue light exposure.
- Apply screen protectors that filter out blue light. These screen protectors can be applied to cell phones, tablets, and laptops!
- Change screen color settings. There are options such as “night shift” that move screen colors from normal to warmer hues at sunset, promoting better sleep and less eye strain from exposure to cooler blue colors. You can set these to full-time, too.
- Increase efficiency and monitor productivity. Although many of us like to “buckle down” and finish the job, research suggests that inserting several small breaks work to increase efficiency and productivity. This bit is certainly optometrist-approved as the break can work to reduce the risk of eye strain and dry eyes.
As always, we are here to help with any of your eye care needs and to answer any concerns you may have. If you are experiencing any symptoms related to increased screen time, give us a call. We are seeing patients with safeguards in place for both your health and ours.