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It’s an unfortunate fact that most of us spend a great deal of time glued to our screens. We’re either browsing through Instagram, updating our Facebook status, or watching films on the iPad. We find ourselves glued to Netflix on our days off and spend hours looking at our phones before going to sleep. As much as we may hate to admit it, our screens are highly addictive.

According to studies, the average office worker spends more than 1,600 hours per year at their computer screen – and that’s just at work. In this article, brochure printing experts Where The Trade Buys take an in-depth look at why too much screen time can be detrimental to your health.

Most of us are already aware that spending hours at a time staring at a screen is bad for your health, but did you know that it can also make you ill? Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is also known as digital eye strain and caused by prolonged periods of looking at electronic devices such as computers, tablets and phones. The syndrome can result in several symptoms including:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

But why does this happen exactly?

Staring at a screen means that our eyes have to work harder than usual. Unlike reading from a book or a newspaper, in which the words are more distinguished and sharply defined, the contrast on a screen is significantly reduced and the likes of glare bouncing back from the screen poses more of a threat to an uninterrupted view. Those who already suffer from poor vision and use eye-sight correction such as glasses or contact lenses are the most likely to be affected by CVS. Studies have found that even those who don’t usually require a general eye prescription may benefit from glasses specifically designed for use in front of the screen to prevent damage.

CVS can be treated through the administration of solution although often simply adjusting the way you view your screen can owe to a reduction in damage to the eye.

You can treat CVS using eye solution, although you may simply want to adjust the way you look at your screen in order to minimize damage to your eyes. Simple changes, such as altering your display settings, regularly exercising your eyes and taking frequent breaks from staring at the screen can all prevent the strain caused. You could take up a hobby that doesn’t involve being in front of a screen such as growing your own veg. Most employers should also have guidelines instructing you on how to set up your workstation appropriately.

Taking steps towards change

With all the technological advancements, it almost seems like backtracking to suggest that you should put aside the phones and tablets in exchange for a book, but it’s not. Scientific research has shown that by reading from a physical book or newspaper as opposed to an e-book or your digital copy, you absorb more information. This owes to two main reasons. Firstly, you get less distracted, mostly due to the fact the internet isn’t right at your fingers and secondly, having the material in your hands help you visualise just how much you’ve read.

Similarly, if you’ve been working in a job all day that involves focusing on a computer screen and your equating to that aforementioned 1,700 hours, then use the evenings to give your eyes a rest. Findings suggest that using a blue light before sleep can disrupt with your melatonin and circadian cycles, making the process of getting to sleep a whole lot harder. On the other hand, reading some print is deemed an age-old remedy for those struggling with getting some shut eye.

No one is proposing that we scrap all the digital technologies that make our day-to-day life so much better, however it is worth reassessing the time spent looking at a screen and whether it essential – looking at the same posts repeatedly isn’t. Turn your phone onto airplane mode at 9pm, keep track of your time spent on social media, and take in the view straight ahead as opposed to looking down.