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Eye Strain from Excessive Electronic Use

After dealing with a swollen eye for a few days and a doctor's appointment, I was inspired to write about the possible effects of eye strain from excessive electronic use or general fatigue.

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After dealing with a swollen eye for a few days and a doctor’s appointment, I was inspired to write about the possible effects of eye strain from excessive electronic use or general fatigue. My eyes were becoming particularly sensitive this year as I began my first job grading papers for four hours straight under a local tutoring center, and as I binged Netflix shows and movies. I found myself blinking harder than normal some days and seeing my eyes lose that glimmer they normally have. Especially over summer, school wasn’t in the way to prevent me from putting down my phone.

A word of advice, download the app Offtime, which tracks how many hours a day you use your phone and how long you spend on each app. I was shocked to see how many hours a day I spent on electronics. Words seemed blurrier than they used to; I had to inch up closer or open my eyes really wide or squint very narrowly to see things I used to be able to see just fine before. My check-up at the doctor’s office displayed poorer results than before on the eye exam.

My unfortunate decline in vision can be explained by my excessive use of electronics (and my job). Part of the problem of electronics is the overuse at night– like when I’m supposed to be sleeping (I know I’m not the only one). There is too much blue light emitted from the screen, which is especially why experts advise against using social media websites before going to bed, as blue light makes it harder to fall asleep (1). “Coincidentally,” many social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr have blue icons. (Is it part of their scheme to make users use their app even more? Every minute spent is more money being made? Just kidding, I don’t know how their marketing works, but it’s a guess). So another word of advice, use a blue light filter! Newer electronics like my Galaxy S8 or eBook readers have blue light filters so the screen turns more yellow instead of white/blue light. At first, the contrasting colors may seem jarring, but I like to gradually adjust the light from 1 bar lower on the blue light scale until now where my screen is practically yellow and I don’t even notice the color until I revert back to the non-blue light filter, which becomes even more jarring (2).

Another tip is the 20-20-20 rule. After viewing an electronic for 20 minutes, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes time to relax. Similarly, just to avoid being a couch potato, taking a break and staying hydrated after working for a while can improve your health (3).

Viewing electronics isn’t necessarily bad; however, using them for extended periods of time can strain your eyes. Viewing electronics reduces the rate of eye blinks from 15 times a minute to as few as 5 times a minute, which can lead to dry, irritated, and tired eyes. To combat dry eyes, having tear drops may also come in handy.

All in all, make sure to take care of your eyes with these steps!

  1. Reduce screen usage time.
  2. Use a blue light filter.
  3. Rest your eyes every once in a while.
  4. Use eyedrops.

References and Footnotes

(1) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/screen-time-digital-eye-strain/

(2) https://www.androidcentral.com/try-blue-light-filter-your-phone-or-tablet-your-eyes-will-thank-you

(3) https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/20-20-20-rule#symptoms

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