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Eyes Tired from Increased Screen Time During COVID 19 Pandemic?

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic altered the lifestyles of people around the globe, many of us – adults and children alike – have spent more time staring at screens, whether for work, virtual learning, or entertainment. As fall settles in, it looks like that won’t be changing anytime soon.

There’s no need to panic, however, as prolonged screen time on these devices won’t likely lead to permanent damage to the eyes, especially if preventative measures are put into practice.

Before we discuss those measures, it’s important to note how eye strain can present itself. Discomfort from gazing at a device’s screen for too long could manifest itself as:

  • blurred vision
  • tired eyes that tear or sting
  • headaches (especially at the front of one’s head)

Research has shown that children who spend an inordinate amount of time in front of screens (e.g. watching YouTube videos, playing video games, Facetiming with friends, etc.) may be at risk for nearsightedness (myopia).

How to Avoid Eye Fatigue

Advice for avoiding eye fatigue is the same for both adults and kids.

  1. 1. It may seem obvious, but give yourself a break from screen time at regular intervals. You can schedule your breaks in 20-minute blocks: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen for a few moments. Try to look 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  1. 2. Switch up your reading habits by digging into real books vs. ebooks every other time you do so. Similar to tip number one, look up and out the window every few chapters. Insert sticky notes or bookmarks into your children’s books to remind them to do the same.
  1. 3. Glare from light sources reflecting off your screen can be more harmful than the light emanating from the screen itself. If outside, try not to look at your device’s screen at all. If inside, position the screen so that it points away from bright lights, thus reducing glare.
  1. 4. Speaking of being outside, try to get out of the house or office as often as possible. The fresh air is good for you (and your children) and it helps to train your eyes at objects in the distance, thereby helping to stave off nearsightedness (myopia).
  1. 5. Keep your eyes moistened by using lubricating eye drops when your eyes feel dry or itchy (not “red-eye” relief drops).
  1. 6. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and make an effort to blink more often and to blink slowly. This will help with eye fatigue and dryness.
  1. 7. Keep your device about two or three feet (an arm’s length) away from your eyes and a bit below your line of vision. This good for your eyes, back, neck and posture, too.
  1. 8. Making adjustments to the brightness and contrast of your device’s screen can be helpful in reducing eye fatigue in the long run.

We might not be able to avoid digital screen time completely, especially as work and school requirements mandate it, but the tips offered above can make it more manageable and can alleviate eye fatigue as well as long-term progression of nearsightedness. Setting some guidelines for yourself – and especially for children who seem to be able to stare at their screens for hours on end – will keep everyone seeing more easily and clearly now and in the future.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Dr. Michael G. Miller is a dedicated optometrist with a passion for helping correct vision loss in patients. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget.

For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call the Linwood office at 609-927-3373 or the Cape May Court House office at 609-465-7926. Visit us online at CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Think Again Next Time You Rub Your Eyes

We have all been there… An irritation or itch in the eye and we rub our fists to feel relief.

The action of rubbing eyes stimulates tears, lubricating dry eyes and removing dust and other irritants.

It can also be therapeutic, as pressing down on the eyeball stimulates the vagus nerve and slows down the heart rate, relieving stress.

While rubbing your eyes may seem harmless, if you rub your eyes too often or too hard you can actually damage your eye.

Here are a few reasons you should reconsider rubbing your eyes:

  • It can cause an unsightly appearance. It causes tiny blood vessels to break, resulting in bloodshot eyes and dark circles.
  • Germs can enter through the eye socket. Your hands carry more germs than any other body part and can easily transmit germs leading to infections like conjunctivitis.
  • You can damage your eye’s nerves. Rubbing to remove a foreign object stuck in your eye can scratch the cornea.
  • Rubbing is dangerous for people with pre-existing eye conditions. Those with progressive myopia can worsen their eyesight through rubbing, and people with glaucoma can cause a spike in eye pressure that disrupts blood flow to the back of the eye.
  • It can thin your cornea. Damage to the cornea through rubbing causes it to be weakened and conical, potentially leading to distorted vision.

Next time you get an itch or irritant to the eye, try flushing it out with sterile saline or artificial tears. Eye drops also help prevent dry, itchy eyes.

If you feel that your eye irritation is a chronic condition, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your ophthalmologist.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Dr. Michael G. Miller is a dedicated optometrist with a passion for helping correct vision loss in patients. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget.

For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call the Linwood office at 609-927-3373 or the Cape May Court House office at 609-465-7926. Visit us online at CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Smoking and Eye Health… Not A Good MIx

Most people are aware that smoking poses a variety of health risks, ranging from cancer to heart disease, diabetes to lung diseases and more. However, many folks are unaware of the danger smoking causes to eye health.

Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body — including your eyes. Studies show smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.

One of the most vulnerable parts of the eye to cigarette smoke is the choroid, which is a dense network of blood vessels at the back of the eye. It’s responsible for supplying the retina with oxygen and nutrition and maintains the temperature and volume of the eye.

Studies have shown that smokers and people exposed to smoke have a thinner choroid. Choroidal thinning is linked to the development of vision-threatening AMD, among other conditions.

Eye diseases caused by smoking include:

Cataracts cloud your eye’s natural lens. The only way it can be corrected is through surgery to replace the lens with an artificial intraocular lens.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, the essential part of the retina that provides sharp vision. Living with AMD can make it difficult or impossible to read, recognize faces and colors.

For those with diabetes, smoking increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy —irreversible vision damage done to the retina.

To decrease the risk of developing serious health problems, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that smokers quit smoking and everyone should avoid smoking to preserve your long-term eye health.

If you continue to smoke, schedule comprehensive eye exams regularly with your ophthalmologist.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Dr. Michael G. Miller is a dedicated optometrist with a passion for helping correct vision loss in patients. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget.

For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call the Linwood office at 609-927-3373 or the Cape May Court House office at 609-465-7926. Visit us online at CoastalJerseyEye.com.