This March, Protect Your Eyes From Too Much Screen Time
Workplace Eye Wellness Tips Everyone Can Use!
March is a great time of year to focus on workplace eye wellness and eye donor awareness. With so many people now working from home, it is important to know how to protect your eyes from too much screen time. Did you know that a recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen?
And this does not include our addiction to phones and other digital devices. All this screen time has led to an increase in complaints of eye strain, dry eye, headaches, and insomnia. If you are susceptible to painful migraines excessive screen time may contribute to this sensitivity as well.
During Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March, Dr. Glenn K. Davis II and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering tips to desk workers everywhere whose eyes may need relief from too much screen time.
Eye Strain from Screens is Different Than Regular Reading
Why does computer use strain the eyes more than reading printed material? Mainly because people tend to blink less while using computers. Focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital displays can reduce a person’s blink rate. The rate can reduce by as much as a third to a half, which tends to dry out the eyes.
Another reason for added eye strain is that we tend to view digital devices at less-than-ideal distances or angles. Some try to compensate this distance viewing by purchasing additional pairs of glasses. But the good news is you don’t need to buy expensive computer glasses to get relief, according to the findings of a recent study. Blue light filters are no more effective at reducing the symptoms of digital eye strain than a neutral filter.
Help Your Eyes by Improving Your Digital Reading Environment
More good news for your eyes is that you may try various ways to improve your digital reading environment. Give these simple tips a try to see which might be most effective in reducing eye strain and other difficulties:
- Keep your distance: The eyes actually have to work harder to see close up than far away. Try keeping the monitor or screen at arm’s length, about 25 inches away. Position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
- Reduce glare: Glass screens can produce glare that can aggravate the eye. Try using a matte screen filter.
- Adjust lighting: If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
- Give your eyes a break: Remember to blink and follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking into the distance allows your eyes to relax.
- Keep eyes moist: Keep artificial tears at hand to help lubricate your eyes when they feel dry. Consider using a desktop humidifier. Office buildings have humidity-controlled environments that suck moisture out of the air. In winter, heaters on high can further dry your eyes.
- Stop using devices before bed: There is evidence that blue light may affect the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake and sleep cycle. During the day, blue light wakes us up and stimulates us. So, too much blue light exposure late at night from your phone or other devices may make it harder to get to sleep. Limit screen time one to two hours before bedtime. Use nighttime settings on devices and computers that minimize blue light exposure.
Eye Donor Awareness Month: Learn More
In addition to workplace eye wellness and in honor of eye donor awareness month, Dr. Davis offers answers to some select questions many people may have. These are courtesy of University of Iowa Health Care. We hope you find the history of eye donation as eye-opening as we do!
How common is corneal transplantation?
Corneal transplantation is not a new procedure. The first ones occurred in the late 1800s, with procedures done routinely since the 1960s. The first eye bank established was in Russia in the 1930s, nearly 90 years ago. At present, there are more than 44,000 corneal transplants done every year, making it the second-most common transplant after blood donation.
Could a living person donate an eye?
You have to discuss with the potential donor the motivation for the donation. Under ordinary circumstances, eyes are not the same as kidneys and are generally considered to need both for your best function. In circumstances where you’ve lost vision in an eye or you no longer see daylight, there might be exceptions, but otherwise donation would not be acceptable.
Would someone with macular degeneration benefit from a corneal transplant?
Patients with macular degeneration have a disease of the retina. The retina is like the photographic film inside a camera. It is a thin tissue that lies in the inside of the eye. Consequently, unless the cornea is also affected in some way, corneal transplantation would not help a patient with macular degeneration. There are some people who have corneal dystrophies such as Fuchs who also have macular degeneration, and they can benefit from transplantation when the cornea becomes cloudy.
Are people with glaucoma candidates for this procedure?
People with glaucoma have an eye condition where the optic nerve is being damaged, usually by pressure inside the eye that is too high. The cornea is not affected by glaucoma, but some patients will have both glaucoma and a corneal condition. Those patients may require surgery for the glaucoma and surgery for the cornea. Glaucoma is one of the factors that harms corneal transplant, so the glaucoma must be controlled before or at the time of the corneal transplant.
Does having diabetes prevent someone from being an eye donor?
Only the advanced stages of diabetes that require insulin prevent a patient from being a donor. Patients who have diet-controlled diabetes may still be eye donors. Patients who have severe forms of diabetes may donate their eyes for research rather than for corneal transplantation. Research is a very valuable mission and may lead to prevention or cure of blindness for many more than one patient.
Are corneal transplants done more frequently on elderly or younger patients?
Many patients who receive transplants are older, but the populations who are very old or very young are the populations that receive most transplants. Similarly, most of the donors are also older. The typical eye bank will accept donations from the age of two to 70. Donors younger than two and older than 70 are helpful for research tissue but not for corneal transplantation. In general, patients receive corneal tissue from donors approximately the same age or younger than themselves.
We hope you and your family will discuss the many reasons for becoming an eye donor. We urge you to then choose to make eye donation as part of your overall organ donation plans.
Call Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, today at (540) 980-1965 in Pulaski or (276) 236-8307 in Galax for an appointment. Follow us on Facebook for updates on eye health, and more on workplace eye wellness and eye donor awareness.