What Does Staring at a Screen All Day Really Do to Your Eyes?

Everyday life is becoming increasingly digital. Work—either in the office or at home—requires more and more technology. Education, ranging from elementary school to the collegiate level, requires technology for everything from specific projects to fully virtual learning days. We even spend our free time on technology in order to see the faces of long-distance loved ones and relax with video games.

More and more people are becoming aware that all this screen time can affect their posture and focus, but what does staring at a screen all day really do to your eyes? Find out below.

Causes Dryness

Anything that demands your prolonged attention can dry out your eyes, since you often blink less while you’re focused. Extended focus on computer screens, however, can cause additional dryness due to posture changes. When you’re writing by hand or reading a physical book, your gaze is often angled downward, and your eyes remain open a normal amount. When you’re looking at a computer screen, though, your gaze is often straight forward to help you maintain good back posture, which opens your eyes wider and can cause them to dry out more quickly.

Fatigues the Eyes

Eye fatigue or strain is another effect that staring at a screen all day can have on your eyes. Extended periods of intense focus on anything can strain your eyes, but any piece of technology with a screen can exacerbate the problem. For example, reading the news in a printed newspaper limits you to a certain number of articles, but an online news page offers endless amounts of articles. All that extra work goes on your eyes. This type of strain can cause temporary nearsightedness, headaches, and double or blurry vision.

Causes Retinal Problems

Blue light has the highest energy on the human visible light spectrum. You can find it in natural places such as sunlight, and it has benefits such as elevating mood and helping memory. However, digital screens also emit this light, which can have negative consequences. Prolonged, continued exposure to blue light can damage your retina, the part of your eye that helps your brain recognize images from light. Vision problems from this damage include macular degeneration, cataracts, cancer, and growths in the white part of your eye.

So what does staring at a screen all day really do to your eyes? The short answer is that digital screens can hurt them, both in the short term and long term. Thankfully, solutions such as taking frequent breaks, using the 20-20-20 rule, and wearing blue light computer reading glasses can protect your eyes as they continue to help you work, learn, and play in our digital world.