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Technology and Eye StrainAre you a compulsive phone checker? Did you know the average person checks their phone 27 times a day? Couple that with time spent at work or school on the computer and you could be headed for overload. Let’s not forget to add time spent on a variety of social media channels such as Facebook and Pinterest. Did you know, according to Business Insider, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg states, “the average Facebook user spends about 40 minutes a day?It’s no wonder we have headaches and our eyes hurt.

Have you ever felt discomfort in your eyes after using you smart phone computer or tablet? This is a growing trend that is being seen as the popularity of these devices rise. While there is no link to long term effect on the eyes with the use of these devices, overuse can lead to short term eye discomfort, tension headaches, dry eye and eye strain.

While these devices have helped to make everyday life easier, they can also cause discomfort and eye pain through their usage. Staring at a small bright screen for long periods of time can have negative short term effects on your eyes. It is especially important to try and limit technology use in young children.

Tension headaches are one of the leading complaints that patients experience when they spend large amounts of time looking at screens close up with high contrast differences. In other words reading dark print on a bright background can cause the muscles in your eyes to spasm. These muscles are located near your temples (the soft spot in between your eye and ear). Many devices developed for reading such as the Kindle or Noble Nook display black text on a gray background. These colors are shown to have less of a strain on the eye causing less irritation to the reader. When using your smart devices, turning down the brightness can help to reduce the strain as well, as your eyes are not forced to focus on bright light with vast differences in colors.

When you look at objects in the distance, your eyes automatically blink more keeping them moist. As you start to focus on objects that are close to you, the eyes blink less and become dry. Your eyes blink less because they are working harder to pick up all of the detail of what you are focusing on.

As you focus on objects closer to you, your eyes not only blink less but have to work harder. The pupils become smaller, and the muscles in the eyes adjust which forces them to work harder. When you spend hours on a hand held device, your eye muscles are forced to work harder which causes stain on your eye muscles. One way to overcome this is by looking away from the screen every so often and allowing your eyes to focus on an object far away. This will cause the eye muscles to relax and reduce the strain that constant focus on objects close up can cause.

Enjoy your technology, but be smart about overuse and long-term effects of eye strain. Monitor young children and be attune if they complain of dry eyes or headaches. Be sure to give your eyes a break every now and lower your brightness on mobile devices. Happy web surfing!

About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.