Screen Time Myths and Realities Regarding Your Vision

One of the most common misperceptions that patients have is that it’s bad for your vision if you watch television in the dark, or spend hours looking at a computer screen, or are too close to any electronic screen.

However, watching television or staring at a computer screen, smartphone or other digital device for long periods of time won’t cause permanent eye damage. That said, any activity that taxes the eyes more than usual may cause dry eyes or eye strain. If you watch television in the dark or spend hours looking at a screen, your eyes may very well feel dry and tired or your vision may become temporarily blurry.

These symptoms of dry eyes, eye strain, and blurry vision occur simply because we don’t blink as often while watching television or focusing on computers and other digital devices. The same can be said for reading a book or any other intensive close-up visual tasks that don’t involve electronics. It’s the visual concentration and lack of blinking that’s the issue, not the electronic screen or the activity.

Some people assume that the blue light coming from computer, television, or smartphone screens is damaging their eyes, but there’s no scientific evidence that blue light from electronics damages vision. In fact, we’re exposed to blue light from many other sources besides electronics, namely sunlight. Other sources include fluorescent light and LED light, but no source of blue light is more harmful than another.

The best way to protect your eyes against dry eyes or eye strain from screen time or any other close-up work is to take regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. You can also use over-the-counter artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.

If your symptoms persist it may be time for a comprehensive exam. Sometimes eye strain occurs when our eyes are trying to correct for vision loss from nearsightedness or farsightedness, or other eye conditions. So if you’re consistently experiencing dry eyes or eye strain then it’s wise to have your vision checked to see if corrective lenses are in order.

East Tennessee Eye Surgeons is doing a back-to-school special for the whole family during the month of August. Get a complete single vision pair of glasses for $99.00 using select frames and within certain prescription parameters. (No insurance or other discounts applicable.)

East Tennessee Eye Surgeons specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of both common and complex eye diseases for people of all ages. With two locations at 7800 Conner Road in Powell and 744 Middle Creek Road, Suite 200 in Sevierville, East Tennessee Eye Surgeons delivers the highest quality eye care in an exceptional setting. Visit our website to learn more about us, or call us at 865-546-1464 (Powell) or 865-908-7008 (Sevierville).