Can Too Much Screen Time Damage Your Eyes?

by Mar 23, 2024

In our digital age, prolonged screen time has become a ubiquitous part of daily life for many individuals. The effects of excessive screen exposure on eye health have raised concerns among healthcare professionals. This can pose particular concern for the eyes and eye health.


Digital Eye Strain

Extended screen time can lead to digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome. Symptoms may include eye discomfort, dryness, blurred vision, headaches, and neck or shoulder pain. Prolonged focusing on screens can cause the eye muscles to fatigue and contribute to these symptoms. Of all problems driven by screen time, this added eye strain is certainly the most prevalent.


Blue Light Exposure

Screens emit blue light, a high-energy visible light that can penetrate deep into the eye. Overexposure to blue light, especially in the evening, may disrupt the sleep-wake cycle by suppressing melatonin production. Prolonged exposure to blue light is also associated with retinal damage over time.


Can Screen Time Damage the Eyes of Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of excessive screen time due to their developing visual systems. Prolonged screen exposure in this age group can impact visual development, lead to dry eyes, and contribute to digital eye strain symptoms.


Reduced Blinking and Tear Production

When engrossed in screen activities, individuals tend to blink less frequently, leading to increased tear evaporation and dry eye symptoms. Reduced blinking can disrupt the normal tear film and impair the eye’s ability to stay lubricated, further exacerbating discomfort.


Risk of Myopia Progression

Recent studies suggest a correlation between increased screen time and the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness, especially in children. Prolonged near work, such as focusing on screens, may contribute to myopia development or worsening in susceptible individuals.


Recommended Screen Time Guidelines

To mitigate the potential negative effects of screen time on eye health, adhering to recommended screen time guidelines is crucial. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away to reduce eye strain and refocus the eyes.


Adjusting Screen Settings

Adjusting screen settings such as brightness, contrast, and font size can help reduce eye strain. Consider using blue light filters or wearing computer glasses with blue light protection to minimize exposure to harmful blue light wavelengths.


Taking Breaks and Practicing Eye Exercises

Incorporating regular breaks during screen use, practicing eye exercises, and maintaining good posture can help alleviate eye strain and reduce the risk of developing symptoms associated with prolonged screen time. Engaging in outdoor activities to rest the eyes and promote overall eye health is also beneficial.


Long Term Damage from Screen Time

Currently, there has been little research done that shows definitive risks long term related to screen time. While myopia progression in children is certainly a concern, this relates also to any near focusing task. Dryness, eye strain, and headaches are all problematic in the short term and can begin to cause larger issues if not managed appropriately. 


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about if screen time can damage the eyes if used extensively throughout the day.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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