What’s the matter
While the ‘second machine age’ – the third and fourth industrial revolutions – has completely changed the way we live by bringing human interaction and connectivity to a whole new level, it does not come without some serious complications. And one of them is digital eye strain.
Visual Display Unit (VDU)
VDU is just a fancy term originally used to refer to computer monitors but now as a collective term that encompasses smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. And there is a high chance that you are using one just now!
Based on an article on World Economic Forum, there’s a study done in 2016 that showed Americans who were 18 years of age and above spent an unbelievable 11 hours a day on VDU! And I believe that is too the case in the UK given the country came in second in ‘Where People Can’t Live Without the Internet‘ and East Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore won’t be too far away from that 11-hour mark.
Digital Eye Strain
One of the repercussions as a result of extended periods of using VDU ? Digital eye strain – where people generally report after 2 to 3 hours of using such devices. You probably have experienced that yourselves when your eyes are so tired that your distance vision becomes a little weird and you start rubbing your eyes and they just feel so tense.
Eye strain generally occurs when you spend a tremendous amount of time doing near work like reading and VDU exacerbates that because they emit high levels of light. Besides, people tend to blink less when they stare at a screen so that indirectly leads to dry eye syndrome since your tear film is renewed every time you blink.
You have heard of that, haven’t you? It’s interesting to note that light is one of the most important cues our brain uses to regulate sleep/wake cycle. And VDUs are shown to disrupt our sleep patterns by keeping you awake when you’re supposed to be sleeping, and thus making you lethargic in the long term. In other words, sustained use of VDU especially at night could inflict jet-lag on the user.
All that combined, extended periods of using VDU could potentially be a real pain concerning how much visual discomfort it would cause. So what are the good practices you can employ to avoid this from happening?
The 20-20-20 rule
Regular breaks, period. Simply put, look at something at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. 20 seconds would not eat away too much of your time, but it makes a big difference.
Put your phone down before bed
Remember VDUs affect your sleep/wake cycle? You don’t feel it – but the high levels of light from your iPhone/iPad keeps you awake and completely messes up your sleep schedule!
Blue-blocking (blue filter) / anti-reflective glasses
Lens with blue filter may improve visual comfort for VDU use by reducing the amount of blue light reaching the back of the eyes while glasses with anti-reflection coating may achieve this by reducing surface reflections (glare within lenses). To learn more about these coatings, click here.