Too much screen time doesn’t just irritate your eyes, it can also hurt your wallet, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Optometric Association and consultancy Deloitte Economic Institute.
According to the report, around one in two adults are exposed to seven or more hours of “excessive” screen time per day, including 70% of office workers and those working in other fields. It is said to contain 42%. Staring your face on a screen for more than seven hours can cause eye strain symptoms such as dry eyes and headaches, as well as neck and back pain due to poor posture, costing the United States $73 billion annually. The report states that
The report estimates that the cost of too much screen time being “unmanaged”, meaning people skipping eye exams, is $151 billion a year.
The researchers arrived at these numbers by applying a formula that considers people’s productivity at work and the cost to the health care system and converts health loss, or years of health lost, into a dollar amount. .
The report, based on a sample of 1,000 people ages 18 to 64 across the United States, was created as we continue to rely on laptops, phones, and other devices for work and daily life.
“Just staring at a screen or another screen all day long puts a tremendous amount of stress on our visual system,” Dr. Ronald Benner, president of the AOA, told CNET. He added that screen time has health effects not just on the eyes and body, and can cause fatigue and affect people’s overall mood.
“The biggest takeaway from this is that not only are there economic implications in terms of jobs, but there are also quality-of-life issues,” he said.
Here’s what you need to know about how technology affects your eye health, and tips to stay healthy when screens are required at work or school.
What is “excess” screen time?
The AOA-Deloitte report defines this as 7 or more hours per day. The report says this is the threshold at which there is a “well-established association” between screen time and an increased risk of certain health conditions, such as migraines.
But there’s actually no official number on how much screen time is too much for adults. At least, there aren’t hard numbers for other areas of health, such as the need for at least seven hours of sleep each night or the need for 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
While there are recommendations for how much time children should spend on screens (and what kind of content they should consume), they may not be the same for adults, who often rely on technology for work and daily life. There are no guidelines.
Certain apps can help you refrain from staring at your phone. Apple also recently extended its health efforts to eye health by introducing features to protect your eyes from screens. But most of the time we are literally left to our own devices.
read more: A strange and unique way to cure cell phone addiction
How screens hurt our eyes (and bodies)
Staring at a screen can cause digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, with symptoms such as: Dry eye, blurred vision, headache, muscle fatigue, neck pain more.
Research continues to link many “near tasks,” such as reading a book or holding an iPad, to an increased risk of myopia in children whose eyes are still developing. Such an association has not yet been established in adults, but further research is needed.
However, vision is more than just the eyeballs. This is the entire system that sends sensory information from the outside world to the brain, with muscles that flex and focus to take in that data. And those muscles become fatigued, Benner says.
If you’re tired from sitting in front of a screen all day, “it’s your muscles,” Benner says. “Once your muscles are fatigued, they take longer to relax.” That fatigue can affect the rest of your day and even affect your sleep patterns, reducing your quality of life.
Our posture can also be affected if we spend too much time staring at our phones, computers, tablets, and even smartwatches (depending on how we tilt our heads to look at our wrists). This can compromise the health of your neck, spine, and musculoskeletal system.
“Tech neck” is real, and the strain of chronically staring at your phone or computer can lead to muscle stiffness, compressed nerves, herniated discs, and more.
read more: Is there a link between dementia and vision problems?
How to stay healthy in front of screens
The 20-20-20 rule requires you to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes you’re in front of a screen.Unfortunately, it is probably That’s not enough, either in terms of reducing the risk of myopia in people whose eyes are still developing, or in helping people who want to cope with excessive screen time.
But Benner says it’s a good start.
In general, the longer you look away from the screen, the more relaxed your visual system should be. Find a time during the day when you are not looking at your phone, tablet, or laptop A great start to improving the health of your visual system. For example, he might leave his cell phone on his desk while taking a walk, or he might wait an hour or more after work before playing a video game.
Here are some other tips to improve your eye health and work environment:
- if you can, Reduce number of devices you are working on it. Benner says this isn’t always possible depending on the job, but working on multiple screens at the same time is “much more difficult” and puts more strain on the visual system.
- Adjust your desk, chair, and posture. success. According to Penn Medicine, you should adjust the height of your chair so your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your keyboard and mouse should be lower than your elbows, easily accessible, and you should be sitting up straight. Regarding face distance, the AOA states that the screen should be approximately 20 to 28 inches from your face, and that most people find it more comfortable with their eyes facing downwards.
- Set the mood with good lighting. If possible, try moving your device away from overhead lights and windows to reduce screen glare. If your eye strain symptoms are reduced, consider playing with dimmed office lighting.
- If you notice strain in your neck or eyes, pause. We often get so wrapped up in our work that we don’t notice that our faces are getting closer and closer to the screen. However, the more aware you are of your posture, the easier it will be to make corrections on the fly and eventually form new habits.
- Go to an eye doctor regularly. According to Penn Medicine, people who wear glasses or contacts are more likely to experience eye, neck, and back pain, and find the right vision adjustment so they don’t have to strain to see. That is important. But even if you have perfect vision, you should still prioritize annual exams, especially if you use technology every day. Your doctor may recommend certain glasses or a treatment plan to help you work more comfortably and healthily. Also, if your doctor doesn’t ask about screen time, be sure to bring it up and make it a priority during your appointment.
read more: 7 must-have ergonomic upgrades for your home office