This new digital life based on overexposure to screens in a hyper-connected society has consequences for our visual health, mostly related to what is known as visual fatigue, produced by blinking less in front of the screens of digital devices.
Hospiten Roca ophthalmologist, Maria Martos Lopez, explains that "undoubtedly visual habits have changed and with them the kind of problems we come up against. Although we cannot show there is organic damage, we do see an increase in problems associated with visual fatigue, or tired eyes".
Several studies carried out in different regions of Spain put the percentage of people affected by visual fatigue at 70% of the working population. There is even some research that suggests our digital life may bring forward the onset of presbyopia, and that the effects are already measurable in children and adolescents. By 2020, more than 30% of children and adolescents will have myopia as a result of the excessive use of new technologies, according to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety of the United States.
"If, on average, we should blink around 15 times a minute, in front of the computer screen, smartphone or tablet this number is reduced to between 7 and 10 times at minute. In this sense, the symptoms of visual fatigue are identified as stinging, tearing, the sensation there is a foreign body in the eye, blurred vision and headache. On the other hand, an eye without refractive errors focuses from a distance and focusing on objects at a short distance requires more focusing effort or accommodation. Spending a lot of time looking at close objects causes eye strain that can cause headache", adds the doctor.
In children, Dr. Martos explains that not so many years ago most of their leisure time was spent outdoors and now they spend it in front of screens. So, some studies have tried to link the marked increase in myopia with the change of habits in children. In fact, an article published in Ophthalmology in 2008 concluded that myopia rates were lower in children who spent more time outdoors.
With regard to the most effective recommendations on how to prevent these disorders, the doctor advises us not to spend more than two hours a day in front of a screen. "People who have to spend more time at the computer for work are who suffer most from visual fatigue. For this reason, it is recommended that when doing close work, every so often you should rest your eyes looking into the distance or closing your eyes”.
"Also using artificial tears helps to provide more hydration. In children above all, who tend to get very close to things, it is important to teach them to adopt good posture and to maintain a minimum distance, like from the knuckle to the elbow between the eyes and the paper when they are reading. Having a well lit environment and using glasses correctly prescribed by a specialist also reduces eye fatigue", she says.
The Hospiten Group is an international healthcare network committed to providing service of the highest quality, with almost 50 years of experience, which has twenty private medical-hospital centers in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica and Panama, and more than one hundred ambulatory, own and associated medical centers under the Clinic Assist brand. The group is chaired by Dr. Pedro Luis Cobiella and attends more than 1,700,000 patients from all around the world every year, and has a staff of more than 5,000 people.