Why you should try a digital detox for the sake of your eye health

Article by Chew’s Optics Specialist. 31 March 2022

Between the moment you wake up and the time your head hits the pillow again, how much time do you spend in front of a screen? Is it a near-constant situation? You’re not alone.

App Annie’s State of Mobile report showed that we’ve clocked 3.8 trillion hours of mobile app use globally in 2021, hitting record-breaking numbers. That’s about an average of 5 hours a day – or about a third of our waking moments. If we include the amount of time we’re on our computers or in front of the TV screen, that number could easily double.

Although it seems impossible to part with our digital devices and put ourselves through a digital detox, it’s a challenge worth trying. Here’s why.

The dangers of excessive screen time (and why you might need a digital detox)

1. It impacts our eye health

Over the course of the pandemic, especially during lockdowns, there’s been a major increase in digital activities. In fact, it’s common for people to be engaged in at least two digital activities, or using two digital devices at the same time.

If you’ve ever sat in front of the TV while scrolling through social media on your phone, you’re no stranger to this phenomenon. The downside is that this overexposure to digital screens is harming your eyes.

According to research published in 2021, the most common symptoms include tired eyes, dry eyes and watering eyes. You may also experience blurred vision, red eyes, itching eyes and pain behind the eyes if you increase the hours of screen time and the number of digital activities you engage in.

2. It may lead to body aches

The same research showed that those who spent more hours per day using their digital devices during the Covid-19 lockdown were likely to develop headaches as well. Beyond that, there also seems to be a correlation between screen time and neck or back pain, especially among children, as evidenced in a new study conducted in Denmark.

Half of the adolescents surveyed spend two to four hours a day in front of a screen, while 9% spend more than six hours a day. As a result, these children are less likely to lead active lives, and instead spend most of their time hunched over a computer or phone screen.

It’s no wonder that about 10% of boys and 14% of girls who participated in the study reported that they suffer from severe back pain.

3. It takes a toll on our mental health

It’s common knowledge that your physical and mental health are linked. But to what extent? When it comes to the overuse of digital devices, it has been reported in multiple studies that it may lead to a variety of psychological problems, low emotional stability and a greater risk for depression and anxiety.

There could be multiple, complex reasons for this. It’s possible that with the constant stimulation of the digital world, excessive users of digital devices have fewer opportunities to take a break and recharge. Another hypothesis is that they are more exposed to idealised images in digital media, which may lead to low self-esteem and undue pressure. One thing’s for sure – the numbers don’t lie. And this is why a digital detox is necessary.

Tips for going on a digital detox for your eye health

1. Start small

You don’t have to jump into a 7-day digital detox right from the start. If you want to make digital detoxes a part of your life, it needs to be sustainable. We recommend starting with one day a month. Commit to 24 hours of no phones, TV or computers for a whole Saturday or Sunday. It would be a lot easier to manage, especially considering that life is often hectic and unpredictable.

2. Spend a day in nature

On the day of your digital detox, it’s best to spend it outside, where you can soak in the sun and surround yourself with flora. Not only is it a healthy distraction, but it also encourages you to be more active and reminds you of the beauty of the offline world. Research even shows that visiting places of nature helps to improve your mental wellbeing.

3. Rally your friends

Challenges are easier to get through with friends. Know someone who might be up for a digital detox? Get them to join you on your digital-free day. It makes the day go by faster, allows you to create more fun, shared experiences and memories, and gives you an accountability partner to keep you on track.

For those who can’t do a digital detox

If you just can’t see yourself stepping away from your digital devices, it’s essential to at least equip yourself with the right tools and the most self-preserving habits.

The first step is to create an ergonomic setup, especially if you’re a frequent user of computers. The top of your computer screen should be at (or slightly below) eye level. The device itself should be placed at least an arm’s length away from your face – typically about 50cm.

Whenever you’re using a digital device, make sure that the environment is well-lit. You don’t want to be staring at a blue light-emitting device in a pitch-black room for hours.

If you can’t sustain 24 hours of being completely offline, perhaps you can try it in 20-second intervals. Use the 20/20/20 rule to help you – this means focusing on an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Most importantly, you’d benefit from getting a pair of anti-fatigue, anti-blue ray spectacles from Chew’s Optics. Specially designed to filter out blue light from all sorts of devices from laptops to smartphones, they are great for protecting your eyes from digital eye strain.

Get yours now from our Teck Whye optical shop. Our optometrists will also be able to offer personalized eye health tips and conduct a comprehensive eye exam to recommend more well-rounded lenses, tailored to your specific needs.

Swing by Chew’s Optics at 144 Teck Whye Lane, #01-211. We’re open daily except for Mondays. For further enquiries, contact us at +65 8314 7093.

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