Statistics show thanks to the pandemic, Americans are now glued to their digital devices an average of 13 hours a day, up from 7 or 8 hours a day before COVID.
Exposure to blue light from screens is taking a toll on our eyes. Blue light is part of the UV spectrum and can damage your retina.
Helen Macias, an optician at Dynamic Eye Care in North Las Vegas, said they are seeing a lot more customers who complain of eye pain in the past year.
“Right now, we’re experiencing a lot of children, teachers and others who are now conducting business online,” Macias explained. “People are now experiencing the strain on the eyes, staring at the screen. It can lead to macular degeneration.”
People with light-colored eyes or a family history of macular degeneration are at higher risk. Blue light is present in sunlight but the bulk of people’s exposure comes through their cell phones, tablets, certain smart TVs and high-end video games.
Dr. Scott Edmonds, chief eye care officer for United HealthCare, recommended people follow the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds to stare at something in the distance at least 20 feet away.
“That break takes you away from the blue light, lets your pupil go to its normal size, lets your muscles in your eye relax, lets your focusing muscle relax,” Edmonds emphasized. “All that every 20 minutes will really help you be more comfortable with screen time.”
People can purchase lenses for their eyeglasses or certain laptops to filter out blue light, and they can use the “night mode” feature on their cell phones to cut down on exposure.