If you work in front of a screen hour after hour, and enjoy spending your down-time on an iPad or smart phone, chances are you’re living with computer vision syndrome (dry eyes, headaches, stiff neck and shoulders, perhaps the odd loss of focus)… and you often feel more tired than you should.
There could be a couple of reasons:
When you’re focusing on a digital screen you forget to blink as much as you normally do. That means your eyes are not being ‘rinsed’ with natural fluids so they dry out, becoming itchy and sore.
The blue light emitted from digital screens could be interfering with your natural circadian rhythms, which means you’re sleep is being affected more than you think.
Sounds ridiculous? It’s not. There’s been plenty of research into blue wavelengths over the past few years and according to Scientific American, the light from our devices is ‘short-wavelength-enriched’, which means “it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light—and blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength”.
While blue light is important to get you going in the morning, grab your attention, boost your mood and reaction times during the day; at night they can be harmful. Too much exposure to blue light has even been shown to affect your physical health.
Avoiding computer vision syndrome can be as simple as taking regular breaks from your screen – every 20 minutes or so, make sure you shift your eyes to look at objects six metres away.
Other ways to help avoid this work-impacting syndrome include keeping your screens clean, increasing the font size so you don’t have to strain or squint your eyes, keeping the screen away from windows to avoid glare and adjusting the contrasts, brightness and resolution.
Make sure you blink often and if you feel the need (especially if you wear contact lenses), use eye drops that you can get from your pharmacy or optometrist. Increasing your intake of omega 3 will also help lubricate your eyes.
To minimise blue light emitted from your screen, turn down the brightness on your computer or phone (on an iPhone you can use Apple Night Shift to do this), or consider purchasing a blue light blocking screen. This is especially important at night when your body’s melatonin is preparing you for sleep – if possible, you should stop using your devices 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Finally, be sure to have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist, talk to her or him about any discomfort you experience and ask about blue light filtering spectacle lenses. Even if you don’t need to help of glasses to see, you may find these lenses help you find sleep!