SCREEN SAVERS

The average Brit now spends 11 hours a day looking at screens and it is taking a toll on our eyes. Here’s how to protect your vision.

How long do you normally go without checking your mobile, sitting at a computer or watching TV? Not long, we’ll bet. Brits now spend more than 77 hours a week in front of a screen, according to a recent survey by eye-care specialists, Spectrum Thea. And, unsurprisingly, this rapid rise in screen time is taking its toll on our eyes. It’s now more vital than ever to ensure you go for regular eye tests to identify and address any problems. But the growth in technology also means our visual requirements have changed over recent years. ’Daily use of screens, which are ever-decreasing in size, has resulted in the need for high- definition vision and an appreciation of colours and contrast that wasn’t required in the past, when the world was a less colourful and less visually demanding place,’ says Professor John Nolan from the Macular Pigment Research Group. ‘There’s now a need to optimise our vision by eliminating problems such as glare.

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THE PROBLEM SCREEN GLARE

When faced with screen glare, your eyes suffer reduced sensitivityto the contrast between an object and its background, and imagescan appear blurred or even disappear. ‘The best way to optimise vision is to eliminate the blue light that causes glare and defocus,’says Nolan. And your number one weapon against blue light? Macular pigment – a trio of nutrients, which acts like a natural pairof sunglasses in the central retina. Most of us don’t produce sufficient amounts of this pigment, so it’s a good idea to take a supplement. Try MacuShield, £18.33 for 30, macushield.co.uk.

|THE PROBLEM SCREEN DRY EYES

When you’re concentrating on a screen, your blink rate is reduced by a third, which causes a higher rate of tear evaporation. This, inturn, can lead to dry-eye syndrome, as well as the related complaint, blepharitis – an inflammation of the rims of the eyelids. ’While many people may not think these symptoms are serious, the conditions can become chronic if left untreated – and lead to permanent eye damage,’ says dry-eye specialist Sarah Farrant. Drops can help. Try Thealoz (£13.99, spectrum-thea.co.uk), which contains the natural sugar trehalose to hydrate and protect.

]THE PROBLEM SCREEN SHORT-SIGHT

Since the launch of smartphones in 1997, there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of patients with myopia (short-sightedness), according to a study by leading laser eye surgeon David Allamby. The reason? People tend to hold their mobiles 18-30cm away from their faces, compared to 40cm for newspapers and books. The more ‘close work’ you do, the more likely you are to develop the condition. The solution is to limit your amount of screen time and, if possible, get active outdoors, Recent research has shown that taking part in sports in the open air can prevent myopia from worsening, possibly due to the higher light levels and because you don’t need to focus on close objects.

[THE PROBLEM SCREEN EYE STRAIN

Staring at a screen for hours will inevitably put a strain on your eyes, which can also lead to headaches. The good news? The problem is easily solved: simply step away from the screen for a few hours. If that’s not possible, at least look out of the window for a minute or so. Focusing on distant objects relaxes the muscle inside the eye which, in turn, lessens the strain. Also, make sure you use adequate lighting. Remember, your workplace should be well lit – but not too bright. So, avoid sitting under large fluorescent lamps as the brightness can make things worse.

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