How many hours do you spend each day on your computer, smartphone, tablet, and/or watching TV? If you’re like the typical baby boomer or older adult, it’s probably more than you think, and these activities are wreaking havoc on your health. Today I just want to focus on the effect screen use is having on your eyes.
According to AARP, more than nine in ten adults 50+ own a computer or laptop, seven in ten own a smartphone, and over four in ten own a tablet. And while I couldn’t find any information specific to screen use and older adults, American adults spend as much as 12 hours a day in front of these screens, as well as TVs.
In a recent survey, 16% of adults report being concerned about the amount of time spent looking at “screens” in an average day. That jumps to 25% among contact lens wearers. Here are some of the negative symptoms they’re experiencing:
- 58% feel their eyes are “tired”
- 17% have “dry” eyes
- 16% report blurry vision
- 9% are concerned about “strained” eyes
And unfortunately, as we age, the natural lenses in our eyes become less flexible, and computer work becomes even more of a problem.
Here are some easy ways to save your eyes from “computer stare:”
1) Blink often to keep your eyes moist. Research shows that we blink less frequently when using a computer. Blinking bathes and soothes dry-feeling eyes, as do eye drops.
2) Obey the 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 rule:
Keep your eyes at least 20 inches from your computer screen.
Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes, and look 20 feet away.
3) Cut the glare, which can add to eye strain. Dim overhead lights or buy a desk lamp with a moveable shade that casts light evenly over your desk. Move your computer away from bright light that enters your workspace through a window. You can also add a glare filter to your monitor.
4) Adjust the contrast, font, and brightness to best meet your needs.