The overuse of technology, like cellphones, tablets and computers, can affect one’s vision.
According to Dr. Scott Fuldauer, optometrist at Park Opticians in Pepper Pike, and Bianca Kostranchuk, optometrist at Chardon and Chesterland Family Eyecare in Chardon and Chester Township, technology has changed eye health.
“Digital devices demand much more from our eyes compared to reading traditional print work,” Kostranchuk said. “The more (time) we spend on our computers, smart phones and tablets, the more we are at risk for digital eyestrain. This eyestrain can present itself in many ways, most often with intermittent blurry vision, burning, itching, headaches and in some cases, double vision.”
Though Fuldauer recognizes a change in eye health due to the rise of technology use, he’s not sure if it’s conclusive yet.
“I’ve been in business since 1984, so I’ve seen eyes before and after the advent of technology,” he said. “I don’t see a huge difference in the population’s eye health as a whole.”
A few technological factors can impact one’s eye health.
“This is true with anything, even with general reading, but don’t put the material too close to the eyes,” Fuldauer said. “It shouldn’t be closer than 16 inches. Also, look up frequently and give yourself a rest for a few minutes. Also, make sure you give yourself adequate lighting.”
Kostranchuk said, “With the addition of supplied tablets to most of the elementary and high schools and the increase in the number of device-related games and toys, children are also routinely affected. Most 2-year-olds now know how to use an iPad these days. Because of this, we see a lot of patients in our office that are not in need of prescription eye wear, but relief from their eyestrain symptoms.”
Kostranchuk also noted research is “pointing the finger” at blue light, which is a portion of the light spectrum between UV and visible light. Blue light causes damage to retinal cells and can lead to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Individuals have options in combating the effects.
“Blinking less frequently does not allow for refreshing of the tear film which can lead to dry eye which produces those annoying symptoms like blurred vision, itching and stinging,” Kostranchuk noted. “Also, children’s eyes are more susceptible to any kind of light exposure and not just the blue light coming from devices.
“Until then, damage to the eyes is cumulative, so keeping their screen time to a minimum and wearing sun-wear year round to help filter UV light is crucial to their long term eye health.”
The professionals noted individuals can make small adjustments in their lives to offset eye damage brought on by technology use.
“It is important to utilize UV protection, or blue blockers,” Fuldauer advised. “Those are helpful. Our devices emit UV light, which can be harmful to the eyes. The key here, though, is limiting daily use. This applies especially with kids because they are still developing. Just don’t overdo it and regulate yourself.”
“The most common recommendation to help combat digital eyestrain used to be to take a 20-20-20 break, every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet
away for 20 seconds – which is almost impossible in today’s world,” Kostranchuk noted. “Because of this, the most common recommendation we make in our office now is to first treat dry eye if you suffer from it and then we prescribe eyewear that helps reduce reflection, glare and filters out harmful blue light.”