Eye protection is more important than ever in the age of device screens. Computers have made life more convenient in many ways, but looking at a screen all day can be hard on your eyes. You may feel like your eyes are tired after a long day, or you might get headaches from increased eye strain. This is fairly common, said Ming Wang. The Harvard MD and MIT PhD (laser spectroscopy) said computer-related vision problems are growing and shared some ways to protect your eyes.
“We are currently experiencing an epidemic in the deterioration of eye condition called computer or cellphone eye syndrome,” Wang said. “People are in need of corrective lenses at earlier ages to be able to read their cell phones or computers. The reason is that they are spending too much time looking at the screens of their devices. It’s a vicious cycle.”
“We are currently experiencing an epidemic in the deterioration of eye condition called computer or cellphone eye syndrome.” — Ming Wang, Harvard MD and MIT PhD
Here are some ways you can protect your eyes when you look at screens all day.
Eye Protection Action: Take Regular Breaks
Looking at a cellphone or computer screen for a long period of time without looking away from the device puts stress on the muscles that focus and accommodate the eye, Wang said. Accommodation muscles are what keep your focus on an object as the distance varies, and they get a lot of work when you’re looking at a computer, resulting in wear and tear. The result? Fatigue and possibly premature eyesight degeneration.
“Just like you need to exercise your body on regular basis, you also need to exercise your eye accommodating muscles as well, to keep them young,” Wang said. He recommends the “20-20-20 rule” to give your accommodation muscles a break. After 20 minutes in front of your computer or cellphone, take a break for 20 seconds and look away at a distant object that is at least 20 feet away to let your accommodating muscles relax. Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind to you take a break periodically.
Eye Protection Nutrition: Eat for Eye Health
Nutrition can play a big role in the health and resilience of your eyes. “Your grandmother was correct: Eat your carrots,” Wang said. The vitamins in carrots and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale can help protect against environmental damage.
Other nutrients that may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration include lutein and zeaxanthin, which are also found in green leafy vegetables. They’re also found in corn and eggs, and may be added to other foods. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can help as well.
Protect Your Eyes
Ultraviolet light has been shown to accelerate the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, Wang said, so give your eyes a break by using sunglasses when you’re away from the screens. Filters and apps can help you dim the blue light that may cause eye strain during the day.
In addition, studies have found that people tend to blink less when working at a computer screen. This reduces the amount of tears bathing the eyeball and your eyes may feel dry or scratchy. Eye drops can reduce the symptoms, but blinking more often will also help keep eyes healthy and comfortable.
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