When jobs and schools transitioned to a work from home situation because of COVID-19, screen time skyrocketed and, consequently, so did cases of myopia or nearsightedness in both children and adults. Recent studies have shown there is a link between increased screen time and myopia or other problems like eye strain, blurred vision, headaches and sleep disruption.1 The eye experts at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates explain how increased, unrelenting eye strain from computer, tablet, smart phone, video game or television use can harm your vision.
Myopia—or nearsightedness—is an eye focusing disorder, rather than a disease.2 The problem occurs in the refraction of light. The eye may be shaped long, causing the light to focus in front of the retina instead of on it. Or, the cornea may be formed too steep. The result is close objects are clear, but far away objects are blurry.
In addition to decreased vision, myopia can increase a person’s risk for other eye conditions2 such as:
- Detached retina
The link between computer use and myopia
In the United States, cases of myopia in children have more than doubled in the past 50 years.3 The highest prevalence of increased myopia was in children of the age of six.4 Additionally, ophthalmologists have seen a marked increase in myopia in adults.5 Through these studies and more, it is well documented that the cases of myopia have increased in conjunction with the digital age.
Prevention of myopia
When using a digital device for extended periods of time, we recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Being near a window and setting a recurring alarm can help with this goal, though it is important to keep glare off your screen. Set a visual reminder to blink more frequently to prevent dry eyes and increased eye strain.
For children, set an alarm for computer use or space out bookmarks or paperclips to remind them to take an eye break when reading a book. Limit unnecessary screen time and increase outdoor play time. Train children to use screens 24 inches or farther away, rather than under 12 inches which is too close to the eyes. Use UV protection sunglasses.
The most important thing you can do to protect your vision or your child’s vision is to keep regular visits with your ophthalmologist to closely track any vision changes or strains that may be occurring without your knowledge.
Cure for myopia
While there is no cure for myopia, refractive surgery might be possible to correct the vision. Otherwise, corrective devices will be required, such as contact lenses or eyeglasses. Additionally, some studies have documented success with low-dose atropine treatments.6
Make an appointment today
If you have accelerated your use of screens and have noticed a change in your vision or an increase in eye strain, call us today for an appointment and come to one of our two Colorado locations for a consultation. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are available to evaluate your eye health and to help protect your vision during this time of increased close work and highly concentrated screen time.
Tired, red, stinging, watery or itchy eyes can be a sign that you have dry eyes. Dry eyes can be an indication that your tears are inadequate or imbalanced. This can cause a condition that can become chronic. Nearly 5 million Americans suffer from dry eyes.1 If you’re one of them, start the New Year right by finding the solution to your problem with dry eyes. At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we treat chronic dry eyes with a balanced approach.
Symptoms of dry eyes
- Easily fatigued or tired eyes
- Red eyes
- Scratchy, gritty, itchy feeling
- Watery eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty with contact lenses
- Blurred vision
- Unusual, heavy or stringy discharge
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Difficulty with night vision
My dry eyes are irritating but are they really a serious condition?
Chronic dry eyes could be caused by atmosphere issues, such as fans or forced air, by computer eye fatigue, by hormone changes, by decreased tear production, or even by allergies. These causes can often be corrected with lifestyle changes and minor treatments.
But at other times, dry eyes can be the symptom of another underlying medical condition. If you have been suffering from dry eyes, get a complete eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy. Some conditions that cause dry eyes include thyroid conditions, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Bell’s palsy, and diabetes.
What options are available to treat my dry eyes?
At Colorado Ophthalmology Associates, we treat dry eyes starting with the most minimally-invasive options. Most conditions can be managed or reversed with these treatments and with lifestyle and environmental changes2.
- Over-the-counter products: artificial tears, gels and moisturizers
- Prescription eye drops
- Punctal plugs to block drainage duct
- Surgery to fix eyelids to prevent evaporation
- Vitamin A supplements
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
- Flaxseed oil supplements
- Prescription steroids
- Prescriptions slow-release eye lubricants
- Meibomian gland expression to open oil glands in eyelids
- Warm compresses
- Eye makeup removal and eye scrubs to make sure eyelids are clean
- Avoid contact lens use
- Antibiotic treatment for any eyelid inflammation or cornea inflammation
Is there any way to prevent dry eyes?
Yes, some kinds of dry eyes are preventable3. Environmental and lifestyle adjustments may be needed such as:
- Redirecting fans or staying out of the wind.
- Wearing wrap-around sunglasses to deflect wind.
- Don’t use hairdryers.
- Increase moisture with air humidifiers.
- Avoid smoke and stop smoking.
- Take frequent breaks when staring at computer or video screens. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Lower your computer to below eye level so your eyes aren’t open as wide for as long.
- Increase blinking, especially when using a computer. Post reminders or use alarms to help you make more effort blinking.
- Use artificial tears as needed.
- Drink enough water each day.
- Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep in a darkened room each night.
- Medication management – some prescriptions can cause dry eyes. There are also prescriptions that can help manage conditions that cause dry eyes.
Get an appointment for an eye exam today
Dry eyes can reduce your quality of life and interfere with your activities. Let us give you a thorough examination to try to pinpoint the cause of your dry eyes. Come to one of our two Colorado locations for an exam by one of our board-certified, experienced ophthalmologists and let us help you start feeling better again. Call us today to make an appointment: