Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Is your computer making you blind?"


That's the title of an article in the New York Post.  Here's an excerpt.

A 2016 study from optical trade association the Vision Council found that 60 percent of people use digital devices for five or more hours a day — up from just more than one-third of Americans in 2012. The same study found that 65 percent of people experience vision problems including dry eyes, irritation or blurred vision after spending time in front of digital devices.

And according to eye doctors, the more time logged in front of screens, the worse the symptoms get: Lock eyes with any overachiever and you’ll likely notice an involuntary twitch, known as an “accommodative spasm.”

Even more alarming: You might be prematurely aging your eyes. “With the advent of cellphones, tablets and laptops, we’re seeing people in their 20s and 30s with eye issues that used to be exclusive to people in their 60s and 70s,” says Dr. Richard Norden of Ridgewood, NJ-based Norden Laser Eye Associates. “Screen time is absolutely the culprit.”

While eye-twitching and headaches can be reversed by taking a digital break, Norden has noticed his patients’ prescriptions can permanently worsen depending on how much time they spend with their devices.

“It used to be an old wives’ tale that staring too long at something, like a page while reading, would make you nearsighted,” he says. “But now that isn’t the case.”

The reason? Overuse of the ciliary muscle, an eye muscle that changes shape depending on whether you look at something up close or far away. “Lock” the muscle in one position for too long — what happens when you stare at a screen or read an old-fashioned book for hours — and it suffers.

There's more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

As a writer, I spend more than half my waking hours in front of my computer.  Here's what I do to minimize eyestrain:

  1. I keep my eyes well lubricated.  I use moisturizing eye drops two or three times every day, and eye ointment every time I sleep.  (I wipe my eyes with a facecloth dipped in hot water when I wake up - that clears away the residual 'smeared vision' effect of the ointment.)  If I forego this routine for even a day or two, I get problems with dry eyes, up to and including keratitis (which is no fun at all!).
  2. I use the f.lux app, which changes the light emitted by my screen depending on the time of day, reducing eye strain.
  3. I try to remember to get up, stretch and look around every twenty minutes to half an hour, allowing my eyes to focus on things further away than my screen.  I can feel the difference when I fail to do this for an extended work session - my eyes become scratchy and tired.

The article has some good information and useful hints.

Peter

11 comments:

Bibliotheca Servare said...

The only issue is that as long as an activity doesn't cause damage to the structure of the eye itself, the potential damage is always correctable. The ciliary muscle is a perfect example: there are exercises one can perform to restore the tone of that muscle. It's better to not let it get soft in the first place, of course, but then, glasses cause it to weaken as well (in near sighted folks like myself) by reducing its workload. I can't really see without my glasses (except up close) but I try to have regular "ocular exercise sessions" just to mitigate the effect a little bit. Of course, it's not a cure for near sightedness but it doesn't hurt, and I hate knowing how helpless I'd be without my glasses. On that subject, what solution have *you* arrived at for mitigating that vulnerability in the event of a major "TEOTWAWKI" (The End Of The World As We Know It) type event? The best I can think of is to have multiple extra pairs of glasses, with at least one set of extremely durable lenses. What do you think? God bless! :-)

Bibliotheca Servare said...

Meaning "at least one set *equipped* with extremely durable lenses". Sorry.

rws said...

If you worry about glasses being available in the future the obvious solution is to remove glasses from the equation.

Fixing your vision these days is trivially easy. Laser surgery is as easy as getting a haircut. And if you are not a laser surgery candidate you can get lens replacement surgery done ( also known as cataract surgery). Nothing to it.

So, the answer to your question? The only thing holding you back from a solution is yourself.

Old NFO said...

Good points, and I need to to that more... sigh

Bibliotheca Servare said...

Yeah, sure, let's do that! Oh, wait, that costs money, and there are risks (some would argue "negligible" but my opthalmologist has argued that at my age -early twenties- it's not worth the risk or the money. Believe me, I've thought about it though.) not present with glasses. I would love to not need glasses at all, but money, not motivation, is the real obstacle, combined with an abundance of caution. Thank you for offering a suggestion, though! :-) God bless!

Bibliotheca Servare said...

It's easy to forget, I know. I only managed to stick to a consistent schedule by putting it in my phones calendar. Yes, it's a little silly, I suppose, but it's worked for me better than just writing it down. Thanks for the reply! (Assuming you were replying to me...if not, I apologize, heh.) God bless! :-)

kamas716 said...

I'm gonna go blind by the time I retire. I just picked up my first pair of bifocals Monday (still trying to get used to them) because of eyestrain. I sit at work for 8-12 hours every day, depending on which day of the week, in front of 24 computer and surveillance monitors, then go home and my wife has the TV on and I read on a eReader.

Chris said...

My time is split between checking out commercial building's fire alarm systems and quoting on the problems in front of a computer. I don't need to remember to get up and stretch, though. I'm almost 65 and using a diuretic (in addition to several other prescriptions). ;-)

Mike_C said...

Perhaps it's the one-handed, er, typing, done in front of the computer that leads to blindness?

Anonymous said...

That is spooky. I am a CAD draftsman and spend 10 hours a day looking at a computer screen. My background is black with the lines colored, so I guess that helps me - it certainly is more useful to me than the opposite. So far, no ill effects I am aware of.

Thanks for the link - some good background information there.

Anonymous said...

Mike-C, yeah, my mind went there too.

What specific part of the Internet were researchers, ah, um, looking at when they discovered their vision loss? (Or is this taken from the workman's comp claims filed by .gov employees, the ones who keep getting caught looking at Thingey?)

LittleRed1