Long periods of screen time results in unhealthy eyes

A woman working on laptop
A woman working on laptop (Photo credit: Daniel Thomas)

The world is increasingly dependent on technology that uses screens, these range from phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and television. Using these technologies for an extended time will affect the health of the eyes.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Vision health is critically important for all aspects of a person’s life, including physical health, social engagement, education, employment, and socioeconomic position.” Whenever the eyes become unhealthy, people are more likely to be unable to perform everyday activities. The only way to keep the eyes healthy is to “eat good food and stay healthy” says ophthalmologist, Dr N. Radhika at Imperial Optical, May Pen, Clarendon.

Some examples of food that maintains eye health are “dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, oily fish and nuts,” she added. However, only eating eye foods will not supplement the effects of long periods of exposure to screen light. Using a device screen for long periods will result in “digital eye strain, tiredness and can later lead to myopia,” says Radhika.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Myopia, also known as short-sightedness (near objects are seen clearly, far objects are blurry), represents a growing public health issue.”

People experience different symptoms, but with the same technological devices.

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“After long periods of interacting with the computer screen, my eyes burn to the point where it affects the time it takes for me to fall asleep,” states final year law student at the University of the West Indies Mona, Sonya Williams.

The computer is the device she mainly uses as it is used for “online classes and to complete school-related tasks,” she added.

Other people use their devices for longer periods which results in the same or even more complications of the eyes.

First year, UWI Nursing student, Dania Annikie, looks at her laptop screen 16 hours each day and uses it for “research, school and making plans in advance,” she says. This lengthy screen time makes her “eyes start dazzling, I become frustrated and have headaches at times,” she added.

The phone also plays a major role in reducing eye health.  I use my “phone to browse the internet and watch movies,” states correctional officer, Andrew Ricketts. He uses his phone for five hours daily, but this long period results in his “eyes becoming a little painful and I have to squint a little to resume normalcy,” he added.

The long exposure with screen can be regulated. Radhika recommends that people take rest and for every 15 minutes step away from the device.

The UWI students also know that the regulation is important. Williams takes 10-minute breaks to rest the eyes after every 2-hour class sessions, makes carrot drinks and hydrates with water, while Annikie takes 3-5 hours break from the device, after a long day of screen time. Ricketts regulates his screen time every four minutes daily and nightly over 45 minutes. However, “the eye comfort mode on my phone is turned on at times,” he added.

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