Dangers of too much screen time

THE DANGERS OF CONFINEMENT: myopia and eyestrain syndrome from screen abuse.

(Translated from Información de Alicante, 2 May 2020 original article in Spanish: https://www.diarioinformacion.com/…/peligros-c…/2260917.html )

Ophthalmologist Fernando Soler warns of the consequences of excessive use of mobiles, computers and tablets, especially in children.

Due to confinement, we spend a lot of time at home. Some teleworking, others hanging out with television or computer and, the smallest, in front of the tablet or laptop trying to continue their teaching activity telematically. The consequences are “an increase in near vision and a scarce vision from afar, to the horizon,” explains Dr. Fernando Soler, organizer of FacoElche, one of the most important congresses of ophthalmologists at the state level. The consequence of this is that “by continuously focusing over small distances, the eye tends to become stiff” and, “if it is prolonged in time, myopia or pseudomiopia can appear,” says the doctor.

The difference between the two is that pseudomyopia is temporary, and will tend to disappear as the eye gets used to refocusing from afar. However, myopia is not reversible. “The problem is that now they will not notice it much, since it affects the focus from afar and now, at most, we go out on the balcony and see the neighbours in front, so those affected will notice it in the medium term, when the confinement ends,” he adds.

This is especially worrying in the little ones, since their eye organ is growing and is more prone to variations when adapting to this new “way of seeing” constantly. Another very common eye condition these days is eye strain, which is related to screen abuse, and can manifest itself through blurred vision, dry eyes, and even headaches. “When we are in front of a screen we blink less, we fix our eyes more and that can end up taking its toll,” he says.

Without the opportunity of being able to go outside to expand that visual horizon more than we are currently able, there are some tips that we can carry out to mitigate these effects. “You have to rest the eyes from time to time, just look around without too much focus; look distantly through the window or on your balcony. Avoid spending many hours in front of computer and mobile screens and take breaks every so often.”

Another recommendation is to choose large screens when working or studying. In this sense, “a computer better than a laptop, and a tablet better than a mobile,” says Dr. Soler. In this way we can extend the distance at which we have the screens and reduce the visual effort. The viewing distance should be as great as possible.