Healthy Living: How to prevent vision issues as we rely on screens


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While we remain under coronavirus-related restrictions in Washington state, we have never been so tethered to our screens whether it is for work, to connect socially, to unwind or just for a distraction.

Dr. Drew Oliveira, the Senior Medical Executive Director with Regence, says we are getting in about 13 hours of screen time in a day and while there is no evidence of long-term eye damage from extended use of devices,  we wanted to make sure all that time spent isn’t compromising our vision.

Dr. Oliveira says when you spend a prolonged period of time looking at a screen, it can lead to blurry vision and headaches.

He says follow the 20-20-20 rule.

“Every 20 minutes, take a break. Look outside, look somewhere far away at least 20 feet away so you let your eyes rest a little bit and do that for about at least 20 seconds. Just like if you were washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. So 20 minutes, 20 feet away, 20 seconds—give your eyes a break and then you can go back to the work that you were doing.”

Dr. Oliveira says we also need to be practicing good screen hygiene.

“Is the screen at the right height? So it should be at eye level. Is it far enough away from you? You don’t wanna be to close to the screen, but not too far. So 18 to 30 inches is about the right amount, you will have to judge for yourself.”

Finally, blue light and its tendency to keep us awake is also an issue when it comes to screen time.

Dr. Oliveira says be sure to power down with time to spare.

“Blue light is what we see when we go outside. Skies are blue, that actually wakes us up. And where it becomes more problematic is in the evening when our brains think we should go to sleep and yet we have blue light coming from our smart phones and our tablets that are actually making our brain think that it’s the middle of the day and we should stay awake.”

We were also curious if it safe for kids to be staring at these screens for an extended period of time?

Dr. Oliveira says there doesn’t appear to be a downside to it as of right now. He says he actually recommends kids spend a couple of hours daily on a device connecting with friends and family. Just be sure to set that 20 minute timer, to give their eyes a 20 second break.


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