Eyes Working Overtime?

How many hours a day do you spend looking at a screen? It might be more than you expect.

Our world is evolving faster every day, as technology improves at an accelerating rate we greater access to the latest developments. An impressive 2.08 billion people own a smart phone and year on year this number is growing. Computers are the next-most popular device among those measured. A study undertaken by a well respected internet analyst found that on average people are spending 411 minutes looking at screens and upwards of 140 minutes per day on smart phones.

What’s more surprising is the amount of time teenagers are spending on their phones. In a study conducted on American teenagers (13 – 18 years old) it was found that teenagers are spending on average 536 minutes consuming entertainment media per day. While our screen time is harmful from a sedentary perspective there are other impacts we need to consider in regards to the effects it is having on our wider health. When I was young my parents would tell me “if you sit too close to the television your eyes will go square”, how ironic that now days we spend our lives looking at screens less than an arm’s reach away leading to eye strain, headaches and sore neck muscles, but don’t stress, there are things we can do to reduce the impact screen time is having on our eye health.

Eye strain is a condition that manifests itself through non-specific symptoms such as eye fatigue, pain in or around the eyes, blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches and occasional double vision. Eye strain symptoms occur after reading, computer work, or other close activities that involve tedious visual tasks. A simple way to resolve eye strain is to stop looking at screens, but this is unrealistic in our modern lifestyles and as technology continues to evolve it is expected that our screen time may increase and not decrease in the near future. So, if we are unlikely to reduce the time we spend looking at screens then what can we do to support the health of our eyes and vision as we age? One of the most important contributors to healthy vision is a nutrient rich flow of blood to the eye and eye muscles, to ensure our eyes are getting the right nutrients we need to fuel our bodies with a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3s.

Antioxidants are found in a number of foods, but antioxidants from different food sources respond in very varied ways within our bodies. That is why when it comes to eye health you need to ensure what you are eating is getting to where it needs to go to help. Research has shown that antioxidants from dark skinned berries accumulate in and around the eye and have been proven to help in the neutralising of free radical build up and helping to support a nutrient rich blood flow to the eye and eye muscles. Omega-3 also has evidence behind it in the accumulation of DHA in the retina of the eye and is thought to promote healthy retinal function.

Another way to support the help of your vision is to get moving, regularly. Exercise improves circulation which in turn can improve oxygen levels to the eyes. And don’t forget to protect your eyes as you would protect your skin, wear sunglasses with UV protection and make sure you are taking regular breaks from intensive screen time.

1.https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/ 2.http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/ 3.http://bgr.com/2014/05/29/smartphone-computer-usage-study-chart/ 4.http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2015/11/03/teenagers-in-the-u-s-spend-about-nine-hours-a-day-in-front-of-a-screen/#64ef5fd7c344