If you're like most people, chances are your smartphone is the first thing you look at when you get up and the last thing you see before you go to sleep. In fact, according to a recent report, Canadians spend almost 25 hours a week on average online either staring at a mobile device, computer monitor, tablet, or TV screen.
Unfortunately, what a lot of Canadians don't realize is that this kind of exposure to smartphone screens can have a huge impact on our vision health. That's because digital devices emit harmful "blue light," one of the brightest and most visible wavelengths on the light spectrum. While blue light lets you see your smartphone screen clearly, it can also cause damage to your retina over time, with recent studies finding a direct link between blue light and the development of both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
To make matters worse, one of the side effects of using your smartphone for too long is eye strain. This occurs because the longer we stare at a screen, the less we blink, which in turn causes our eyes to have to work even harder, resulting in blurry vision, dry eyes, and painful headaches. In fact, eye strain symptoms are so common that many Canadians don't even recognize them as part of a larger problem.
Of course, it's unrealistic to expect us to give up our smartphones anytime soon. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to limit their harmful effects on your eye health.
1. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
Your eyes are like any other part of your body. They need time to rest and recover. The 20-20-20 rule is one easy way to give your eyes a chance to keep up with the demands of staring at a smartphone screen for long periods of time. The idea is simple: every 20 minutes stare at something that's at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This engages your distance vision and helps your eyes to "reset." You can even set a helpful alert on your smartphone to remind you to take a break.
2. Cut Back on Your Screen Time
While it might be difficult to do at first, simply cutting back on the amount of time you use your smartphone could mean the difference between healthy eyes and dealing with long-term vision issues. As an added bonus, studies have found that avoiding using your smartphone at least a few hours before bedtime can also help you sleep better, since blue light suppresses melatonin and delays REM sleep.
3. Try Digital Lenses or Coatings
There are a variety of lenses on the market that can help reduce visual eye strain and filter out blue light. Advances in technology means that these lenses also look great, with little to no tint or the awkward-looking magnification that used to accompany lenses of this type in the past. These new lenses are specifically designed for use on digital devices, letting your eyes focus on your smartphone screen without having to work as hard.
To get fitted for specialty lenses that can reduce eye strain and limit the effects of blue light, book an appointment at an FYidoctors location near you.