Quirky Questions: Is screen time really bad for my eyes?

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In today’s society, glowing screens are ubiquitous: computers, tablets, phablets, phones—and the list goes on and on. We’re all guilty of it, but have you ever asked yourself whether all this tech time is actually bad for your eyes?

The short answer is “yes,” but you don’t need to abandon technology just yet. Here, we’ll explore the problem and how to mitigate this risk.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recognizes computer vision syndrome (CVS) as a distinct clinical issue. We can all relate to its symptoms after a long day of staring at a computer screen: eye strain, headaches, blurred vison, dry eyes, and musculoskeletal pain (most prominent in the neck and shoulders). Numerous factors are at the root of this 21st-century problem, including poor lighting, glare from the screen, your posture, and your distance from the screen. The extent of your symptoms usually comes down to two key factors: your underlying vision and the time spent in front of the screen. So, how can you protect yourself?

For most individuals the symptoms of CVS are transient and resolve quickly at the end of the workday, but for some, the symptoms can persist. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to prevent the onset of CVS.

Don’t Ditch Eye Exams

First, be vigilant about your eye health. Regular eye exams with your primary care physician and optometrist will help determine if you have an uncorrected vision problem. You should have regular eye exams whether you have a prescription or not. Your vision changes, so you may need to correct your vision for the first time ever–or you might need a stronger prescription this time around.

Clean Up Your Screen Time Habits

Your computer screen should be roughly four to five inches below eye level and about two feet from your face. If you use reference materials, position them above the keyboard and below your monitor. Minimize overhead glare with an antiglare screen and use a comfortable, ergonomic chair. Be mindful of blinking often to prevent dry eyes and schedule regular breaks from staring at your screen. The AOA recommends 15 minutes of break time for every two hours in front of the computer to give your eyes a chance to rest. Go ahead take a short walk.

Computers are always going to be a part of our lives, so let’s do our best to protect our eyes from CVS.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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