Does Staring at a Screen All Day Hurt Your Vision?

The average American spends about seven hours a day on a computer, either at home or on the job. Especially during these uncertain times where many of us are working from home, we are spending more time than ever on our screens. Not only are we doing work on our screens, but we are also participating in meetings virtually, meeting with friends virtually, taking class virtually, and depending on our screens for entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many worry about what all that screen time will do to their eyes.

So, does staring at a screen all day hurt your vision? Does the blue light emitted from electronic devices harm your eyes?

Blue light is visible light that has a wavelength between 400 and 450 nanometers. The sun is the largest source of blue light, but smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, laptop computers, and other electronic devices produce blue light too. Blue light carries an incredible amount of energy, which can cause substantial damage to cells once absorbed into the body. While scientists are still studying the effects of blue light on the eyes, research does not show that blue light from electronic devices damages the eyes.

Excessive screen time can lead to computer vision syndrome, however. Also known as digital eyestrain, computer vision syndrome can lead to blurred eyes, dry eyes, and eyestrain, which can affect your vision.

If you are like most people, you don’t blink as often when you stare at a computer screen. Blinking is important, in that it re-establishes the thin layer of liquid tears that lubricate and nourish your eyes. Infrequent blinking allows your eyes to dry out, and this can cause blurry vision and discomfort.

Staring at the screen too long can also lead to eyestrain, which can cause vision problems such as tired, burning or itching eyes, watery or dry eyes, increased sensitivity to light, and blurred or double vision. Eyestrain can also make you feel like you cannot keep your eyes open.

Many factors can worsen eye problems associated with screen time. These factors include poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, viewing the screen from too close or too far away, and uncorrected vision problems. A combination of these factors can significantly worsen eye problems from staring at a screen all day.

To reduce your risk of screen-related vision problems, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

For more information on protecting your eyesight or to schedule an eye exam and check up on the health of your vision, call Illinois Eye Center today at (309) 243-2400.