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Saving your eyes from digital device damage

Posted: 5:19 AM, Apr 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-19 06:19:50-04

In early March it was National Unplugging Day. This was a day for people to give themselves a digital detox – putting away computers, tablets and yes, even their smartphones, for a full 24 hours. 

But 24 hours may not be enough time to save your vision. 

Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, computer or television – spending too much time looking at a screen can damage your eyesight. 

"Everyone can get eye strain, eye fatigue or what they call digital eye syndrome, which can be blurred vision, double vision, trouble focusing, and dry eyes," said Vision Boutique Optometrist Dr. Ashley Setterberg. 

Just spending two hours a day in front of a screen can strain the muscles in your eyes. 

"We are getting a lot more eye strains, and sometimes, their extraocular muscles are a little more fatigued as well, which are muscles on the outside of their eyes, and in addition to the ones that are on the inside of their eye that helps their eye focus from distance to up close," said Dr. Setterberg. 

There is also new evidence that spending too much time using digital devices could hurt children’s eyesight. A study showed that school-aged children who spent seven hours or more a week using computers or mobile video games tripled their risk for myopia, or nearsightedness. 

"Some of them are definitely showing that there can be some side affects due to the blue light spectrum on there, and also due to just the close proximity to the eyes and how much strain that is causing. It definitely can be contributing to myopia. They are still having to conduct a few more studies," said Dr. Setterberg. 

Experts say if you cannot put down your device, at least try the 20-20-20 rule. 

"The 20-20 rule is to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of near work. It is a general guideline so try your best, and when you get a break to look a little further away, " said Dr. Setterberg. 

Optometrists say the advice is simple. 

Get your eyes tested regularly and take regular breaks from your computer and hand held device.