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Taking care of your eyes

October 16, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

LISBON - What is your favorite digital media? Smartphone? iPad? E-reader? How much time per day do you spend with your digital device? What are the effects of that on your eyes? The Vision Council recommends a few things that will help keep you in your comfort zone.

The Vision Council conducted a survey and learned that more than a third of adults in the United States spend 4-6 hours daily with digital media. Eye strain and fatigue are an issue, not just for adults, but also for the children who mimic their elders' behaviors.

"Because computer tablets, smartphones and other hand-held products are designed for reading and close range use, eyes must constantly refocus and reposition to process content like graphics and text," advises The Vision Council. "Over time, such efforts can lead to fatigue, irritation and vision problems."

Digital eyestrain is a bigger issue than carpal tunnel and tendonitis. So we need to know how to protect our vision and reduce eye fatigue, stress and strain.

Digital devices include HD-TV, desktop and laptop computers, and gaming systems, too. Effects of two hours of use include dry eyes, blurred vision, irritation, eye fatigue, headaches and neck/back pain. Fortunately these conditions appear not to cause permanent damage.

Some eye fatigue is caused by improper use of the digital equipment. Televisions may not be set at a comfortable eye level. Computer monitors should be an arm's length away from your eyes to prevent squinting or straining the neck and head, particularly for people with prescription lenses.

Smartphones are held closer than you hold a newspaper you are reading. Blue light (LED) "hits the eye lens, it refracts and causes other objects in surrounding view to go in and out of focus."

What about people who wear corrective lenses? Well, they are more likely to experience the issues we've already mentioned. A pair of prescription lenses specifically for computer use is recommended.

Women are more likely to suffer eye strain than men. One in five women surveyed experienced dry eye, blurred vision and headaches. Glare from bright light, dirty computer screens, sunlight and older monitors cause blurred vision. Dry eyes occur because we blink less often. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it might be time to take a break.

We use digital media for work (24 percent), school (3 percent), socializing (18 percent), research (10 percent) and recreation (45 percent.) It has become a major influence in how we work, play and live: books on tablets, games on handhelds.

"Areport by Sesame Workshop found that children between the ages of 8 and 18 are exposed to 2.5 more hours of digital media today than they were in the 1990s," advises The Vision Council.

Helpful tips to reduce the symptoms of eye stress and strain due to digital media include:

- Clean your screen.

- Dim surrounding lighting.

- Adjust your screen.

- Increase text size.

- Blink more often.

- Take a 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.

For more, visit

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and other mental health issues. For more information about our services, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, Visit our web updated website at FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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