'Digital eye' is a relatively new phenomenon, but the increased use of tablets, smart phones, Kindles, handheld digital devices and gaming units is resulting it becoming all too apparent. The condition, otherwise known as 'dry eye', is an eye problem that usually affects older people but it is now presenting in younger people.
'Second screen' is also a new trend where a growing number of tv viewers are also checking in to their social networks on a separate device while watching and in this context, eye health is becoming all the more important.
Dry eye can occur when people spend hours using a screen and their eyes become inflamed, itchy and gritty. The mind can be focused so strongly on the screen that users forget to blink. The normal blinking rate is 12 to 15 times a minute, but using a hand held digital device can mean that they only blink seven to eight times a minute. This causes the tear film of the eye, which normally lubricates the surface to not working properly.
The tear film normally deteriorates with age but eye experts are now seeing an increase in younger people presenting with symptoms of dry eye.
Eye experts offer the following advice to avoid dry eye:
- Don’t forget to blink! - When looking at a computer or handheld digital device you blink two to three times less than you normally would. Be aware of this and don’t forget to blink enough.
- Take breaks – Move away from your computer or put down your handheld device at regular intervals and take a break for your eyes. Every twenty minutes is recommended if possible.
- Pay attention to lighting – Lighting is very important and make sure you are in a well lit room when using handheld devices. Glare or low light can damage your eyes.
- Talk to your eye doctor – If you are a very regular user of handheld devices you may need a separate lens prescription for digital devices to lower eyestrain and avoid permanent damage.
- Have an eyetest every two years –Keep on top of your eye health with a visit to your opticians every two years to monitor the potential impact that your use of handheld devices is having.