Does the digital generation have a staring problem?

How to get the most out of digital tech without straining your eyes.

By on November 13, 2015

How many screens are you staring at daily?  Whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, e-reader or TV, digital technology is on devices all around us and we are increasingly drawn to them. Our lives seem to revolve around our digital devices and online content. In fact, recent reports show adults are expected to spend an average of five hours and 38 minutes each day viewing digital media this year. Last year, for the first time, adults in the U.S. spent more time on mobile devices than they did on PCs.

Digital media use has grown nearly 50 percent since 2013 – and more than 75 percent of that growth is related to the relentless growth of the mobile app market. In fact, staring at our smartphones and tablet screens now account for more than 60 percent of our time spent on digital media. It’s become a demanding digital world.

Whether we use our personal technology devices at work, at home, or out and about, it’s important to understand that unless we pay close attention to how long we are staring at screens, this digital life will have a detrimental effect on that most precious of senses – our sight.

Staring at screens for too long can eventually lead to what is now known as ‘digital eye strain’, an uncomfortable feeling of dry, itchy or burning eyes and blurry vision. The good news is that the condition can be prevented by making a few sensible adjustments to how we view our devices screens, large and small.

  • The muscles in our eyes have to work harder to view things at close range, so make sure your screen is a reasonable distance away.
  • Keep your eyes active – even if you’re deep into a gaming session, don’t forget to blink! Around 15-18 blinks per minute is normal, but staring at screens can mean a reduced blink rate. Blinking keeps your eyes protected and hydrated, so don’t forget to give them some relief when staring at a fixed screen for long periods of time.
  • Check the brightness of your screen – whether it’s too bright or not bright enough, your eyes will be forced to work harder than necessary. For screens that are naturally brighter, anti-reflective coating is both inexpensive and easy to apply. It effectively minimizes the glare from your screen that can be so tiring on your eyes.
  • Use device settings to optimize viewing. You can adjust text size, color and contrast – it’s amazing how a small change will make the display much kinder to your eyes.  Also, a clean screen is a clearer screen. Verizon has a good range of specialized products to help keep your device dirt-free. Learn more here.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a break from your screen for 20 seconds, and focus on something 20 feet away from you. This relaxes the muscles that support your eyes.

No matter how attractive the app, how hilarious the video or how important the creation of the presentation, taking care of your sight is a higher priority. Also, it’s never too early to learn good habits. According to the Vision Council, nearly 25 percent of kids use digital devices for more than three hours a day – and more than 15 percent of parents don’t take steps to limit their children’s screen time.

It’s common sense to look after the health of your eyes as well as those of your youngsters. There’s so much digital life to see – so make sure you see it safely.