Here’s How to Protect Your Eyes from Screens

Recent research says your digital addiction may be catching up with you.

Screens

Screen use photo via Shutterstock

You’ve likely felt the ill effects of all-day screen use—the headaches, the blurry vision, the eye strain—and the sinking feeling that tells you this can’t be good for your vision in the long term. Unfortunately, a new study says your gut feeling may be right.

The research, which comes from Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia, found that a staggering 50 percent of people worldwide will likely be near-sighted by 2050, namely because of computer and screen use. That means roughly 4.8 billion people will have myopia, the technical name for near-sightedness, by 2050, versus 1.4 billion now. To reach that conclusion, the researchers looked at 145 vision-focused studies done since 1995, and used that data to project future trends.

Dr. Stephen Foster, founder of the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution, emphasizes that the research should be duplicated before being taken at face value, but confirms that extended computer use can, indeed, mean bad things for your eyes.

“It has to do with something called accommodation: overuse of the eyes with respect to near tasks,” Foster says. “That involves some muscles inside the eye that cause the lens to accommodate the near vision as opposed to distance vision.” Eventually, that strain can result in a struggle to clearly see anything 20 feet away or further without glasses.

While blue light blockers and brightness adjustments won’t help with myopia, Foster says you can protect your peepers by peeling yourself away from Twitter every once and a while. “Good computer use habits essentially boil down to taking breaks,” he says. “Especially taking breaks and doing something that involves vision off into the distance.” Foster says to aim to take a break at least every hour, even for as little as five minutes.

If the boss questions you, just tell her it’s for your health.