Can prolonged screen time damage your eyes?

There’s no denying that we spend more time using electronic devices now than ever before. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Uswitch in 2022, the UK’s average screen time is five hours per day.[1] While our digital devices are convenient for keeping us connected, is prolonged screen time actually causing harm to our eye health? In this article, we take a closer look at why it might be a good idea to start limiting your use of screens.

Can screen time damage your eyes?

Whether you’re watching your favourite TV show, using a laptop for work or scrolling through Instagram on your phone, if you spend too much time in front of any type of screen, you may notice a change in your eye health. It’s not unusual for your eyes to feel sore, tired and irritated, and you might even notice changes to your vision.[2]

So, what exactly does too much screen time do to your eyes? Keep reading to find out more.

Can too much screen time cause dry eyes?

In short, yes – too much screen time can cause dry eyes. This is due to the fact that you blink less when staring at the blue light emitting from a screen. As a result, your eyes can become dry and irritated.

The good news is, dry eye is a common condition, and it’s not usually something to worry about. Aside from dryness and irritation, there are other symptoms associated with this condition, such as blurred vision, itchiness and redness, and you may notice that your eyes are more watery than normal or become sensitive to light.

If you suspect that too much screen time is to blame for your dry eyes, you might want to think about the changes you can make to stop your eyes from becoming sore. For example, if you regularly use a computer or laptop screen, you may want to use the 20-20-20 rule. This means looking up from your screen every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This is a quick and easy way to prevent your eyes from drying out.[3]

What does screen time do to your eyes?

We know that too much screen time can spell bad news for our eyes. But aside from causing dry eyes, how else does this activity affect your eye health?

If you spend too many hours in front of a screen, it’s not uncommon to suffer from eye fatigue. This is when your eyes become tired from too much intense use. As you scroll or switch between tabs, the movement of the screen means that your eyes need to work harder in order to focus. In addition to this, our screens are not often positioned at an ideal angle or distance, which can then cause added strain on our eyes. As a result, you may find that you develop headaches, and you might even find it difficult to concentrate.

It’s also thought that the blue light released from digital devices can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina – the inner lining of the rear of the eye. This can then lead to early age-related macular degeneration, which in turn can cause loss of vision.

You may also develop myopia, which is sometimes referred to as short-sightedness. This is a common eye condition whereby you cannot clearly see objects that are far away. Short-sightedness can often be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

It’s important to note that the development of short-sightedness usually starts in early childhood, especially for children who may indulge in a little too much screen time. This is due to the fact that natural daylight is needed in order for eyes to develop properly – something a child is unlikely to be getting enough of if they spend a lot of time in front of a TV or tablet device.

Your child may be short-sighted if you notice that they get regular headaches, have trouble reading words from a distance, and sit near to the TV or computer. For this reason, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time that your little ones spend using digital devices.[2]

How much screen time is bad for eyes?

The more you can limit your screen time, the better. Generally speaking, a maximum of one to two hours of screen time is recommended for children per day, and as an adult, you may want to stick to a similar time frame.[4] That being said, those who work at a computer or laptop as part of their job, may struggle to limit their screen time by this much.

If you’re unable to significantly reduce your screen time, there are other ways you can take care of your eye health. For instance, you should make sure that you take regular breaks throughout the day to give your eyes a rest. It’s also important to make sure that your computer is set up just right by positioning your screen correctly, and the lighting conditions should be suitable too.[2]

To make sure your eyes feel refreshed throughout the day, you could even use TheraTears® Screen Eyes Eye Drops which contains hyaluronic acid to keep dry eyes at bay.








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Dr Simon Cooper

Dr Simon Cooper

Working with the TheraTears marketing team, as well as with a number of other Prestige Brands, Dr Simon Cooper brings extensive knowledge and experience in a number of key areas. With a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, and before that a BA in biological sciences from the University of Oxford, he brings immense technical expertise.

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