And it is no surprise, given the recent circumstances, that my eyes are feeling the bad effects of all that screen time I have put them through. “With overuse of your eye muscles, your visual system can get overloaded,” said optometrist Joseph J. Allen. “As a result, it is common to experience some eye strain, light sensitivity and headaches.”
Dr. Allen likens it to going to a party where there are numerous conversations happening at once. It is difficult to focus on just one conversation if there are a lot of people who are talking at the same time in the same room—and the exact same principle also applies to your eyes. Dr. Allen says that more light exposure from your tablet, phone, and computer as well as the sun can eventually leave your eyes feeling overwhelmed like the individual at the party who is trying to hear each word spoken.
His one piece of advice? Try to minimize your overexposure to light as much as you can. You could do that by setting time limits on your screen time and breaks or wearing lenses that can block 100 percent of UVB and UVA rays. Here are two tips from Dr. Allen on managing your eye exhaustion.
Tip 1: Consider a new pair of glasses
There is no way around screen exposure: I use a laptop each day for my work, and also at night sometimes. Since I spend much of my time on my computer and I love reading on my tablet, I have sacrificed some eye exhaustion because of this.
Dr. Allen suggests blue-light filtering shades to his patients, but also warns that just any pair will not do the trick. “For that reason, I always suggest speaking with your local eye doctor about which brands they carry, and which might be best for you.”
I already wear a pair of glasses, so I knew I would want some lenses that would be able to filter blue light, support my prescription and lower the intensity of the bright light when I am outdoors. They block 100 percent of the ultraviolet rays and also filter almost 34 percent of the blue light that can be harmful when I’m indoors and almost 90 percent of the blue light that can be harmful when outdoors, so they work well in Dr. Allen’s book.
Tip 2: Get away from the screen
I already knew that taking screen-time breaks was really important, but I do not always put that advice into practice. (Guilty.) That is why I appreciated Doctor Allen’s suggestion for how to make it happen: “Take a break by going outside your house and doing an outdoor activity where you can look out into long distances.” And, if you are like me and you cannot always find the time you need to go outside, Doctor Allen says you could also mix in the yellow-tinted lights and put your devices on night mode.
If you can fit a walk in your daily routine (I have started going on a walk during the afternoon with my dog, Pepper, a few times each week), Dr. Allen said to think about your eyes while you’re outdoors, too.
“The most powerful type of blue light we can see comes from the sun,” he said. “Along with the high UV light exposure coming from the sun, I strongly suggest 100 percent UV-blocking glasses throughout your day.”