The Hidden Consequence of Living in The Information Age

Today, the average American adult consumes about five times more information than adults 50 years ago.

Advances in technology have given us access to a world of information right at our fingertips—whenever we want it.

Not only that, but we can pick how we wish to receive it. Through televisions, computers, tablets, smartphones—even smartwatches.

It’s pretty remarkable how far we’ve come. But there’s a double-edged sword…

We spend more time than ever staring at screens—especially now that we rely on them to complete so many day-to-day tasks. (Studies have shown that daily average screen use has increased to 12 hours…that’s HALF of your day!)

All of this screen time is straining your eyes and dulling your vision.

Fortunately, you can still remain productive in today’s world while protecting your valuable eyesight. Today I’ll show you two effective approaches to safeguard your vision and help strained, tired eyes feel refreshed.

Symptoms of screen-related eye fatigue

While too much screen time hasn’t been shown to cause permanent damage to your long-term vision, the temporary effects are both inconvenient and uncomfortable.

You might be experiencing screen-related eye fatigue if you have:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry, irritated eyes. Screens cause you to blink less, which dries out your protective, moisturizing film of tears
  • Eye twitching
  • Frequent headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Red eyes
  • Trouble focusing

The best way to alleviate these symptoms is to limit your screen time. But how much is okay for the average adult?

Be more mindful of your screen time

According to Cal Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, the amount of appropriate screen time is different for everyone.

It’s more helpful to reassess the value of the time you spend interacting with screens versus what you’re losing.

“If you find your screens are starting to displace activities you think are more important or meaningful, that’s a sign that you may want to reconsider your use,” Newton says.

He goes onto explain that the goal shouldn’t be to eliminate screens from your life entirely, but to use them more intentionally.

“You want the feeling that your technology is improving your life, not detracting from its quality,” he says.

After you’ve discovered how to use your screens in a more mindful manner, there are ways you can modify them to make them work better for you.

Technology tips for happier eyes

To make your screens more user-friendly, here are a few simple tips on how to adjust them for a more comfortable viewing experience.

  • Adjust your screen position to limit glare and reflections. Close drapes, window blinds, or doors if you need to. You can also install an anti-glare screen which can be found online.

  • Blink more and carry eye drops.

  • Invest in blue light-reflecting glasses. You can find these online for a reasonable price.

  • Optimize the settings on any of your devices to reduce strain. You can modify brightness settings, color, text size, and contrast. Most smart devices also now have “night shift” which automatically adjusts its settings once it’s dark out.

  • Position your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.

  • Take one 10-minute break every hour. This will reduce bodily pain and give your eyes a little rest.

However, I want to point out that screen overuse or improper screen settings aren’t the only issues hindering your vision.

There’s another serious threat that can destroy your vision for good…

Why chronic stress endangers your vision

Like me, you might be spending more time staring at your screens since you’re working remotely. And if you’re taking care of your kids and tending to your household at the same time, you’re probably more stressed than usual.

Unfortunately, this stress could be testing more than just your patience… It could be damaging your eyesight.

According to a recent European study published in the EPMA Journal, chronic stress amplifies the strain on your eyesight and can also lead to major vision problems.

According to lead researcher Professor Bernhard Sabel, chronic stress negatively affects your blood vessels. Your eyes are filled with tiny blood vessels, which deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the retina, macula, and all the crucial parts of the eye. So it makes sense that blood-vessel-damaging chronic stress can lead to eye conditions like glaucoma, optic neuropathy, age-related macular degeneration, and even complete vision loss.

Chronic stress also keeps your levels of the stress hormone cortisol high. And, over time, elevated levels of cortisol destroy body and organ tissue—including the eyes.

Fortunately, there are two all-natural strategies you can use starting today to combat stress, lower cortisol levels, and soothe eye strain.

 Eliminate eye strain in three minutes flat

As an author, researcher, producer, and educator, I’m on my computer a lot—especially now that online video conferencing has become my new normal.

Suffice to say, I have quite a bit of first-hand experience with eyestrain.

These approaches can help relieve that strain in as little as three minutes. They’ve helped me a great deal over these past few months.

Yoga for your eyes

In a 2016 study, 60 nursing students were taught how to practice a technique called “eye yoga.” They reported that the exercise helped significantly reduce eye fatigue.

During this exercise, I want you to remember to keep your head still and breathe slowly throughout.

To begin, find a comfortable sitting position. Keep your eyes open. Blink whenever you feel the need. Then perform the following sequence without moving your head—using only your eyes:

  1. Look upward, as high as you can. Hold for 3 seconds.
  2. Look to the right, as far as you can. Hold for 3 seconds.
  3. Look downward, as low as you can. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Look to the left, as far as you can. Hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Repeat this cycle two more times.
  6. Afterward, rub your hands together to make them warm. Then hold your warm palms over your eyes for a few moments.
  7. Do not return your gaze to a screen for at least 20 seconds.

A whole-body “reset”

This second method alleviates stress by activating your parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest and digest” function). This can be done easily, safely, and naturally with a technique called vagal nerve stimulation (VNS).

Your vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body that touches nearly all major organs in your body—including your eyes. So by stimulating it, you help it to relax and function optimally. It’s like a reset for your entire body!

To stimulate your vagus nerve:

  1. Find a comfortable sitting position. You may keep your eyes closed or option for this one—your choice.
  2. Inhale deeply and slowly.
  3. Exhale slowly, while vocalizing a soft humming sound for the full breath.
  4. Repeat this cycle four to eight times, or whatever feels comfortable to you.

For more VNS exercises to reduce pain and optimize your overall health, I encourage you to try my Whole Body Sound Healing System. In this easy-to-follow online course, you’ll learn over 30 VNS techniques to revitalize every part of your body. Click here to learn more or give it a try today.

It’s my hope that you’ll try out a few of these tips and techniques the next time you find yourself face-to-face with a screen. Let me know if you feel a difference—simply drop me a line via the Sound Health Facebook page or feedback@donovanhealth.com. I’d love to hear from you!


SOURCES:

Do Screens Hurt Your Eyes? (2019). Bagan Strinden Vision. Retrieved from: baganstrindenvision.com/post/how-to-prepare-for-your-upcoming-procedure#:~:text=Digital%20screens%20give%20off%20little,your%20eyes%20to%20blue%20light.

Eye Health in the Digital Age: Does Too Much Screen Time Hurt Your Vision? UAB Medicine. Retrieved from: uabmedicine.org/-/eye-health-in-the-digital-age-does-too-much-screen-time-hurt-your-vision-

Fisher, N. (2019). How Much Time Americans Spend In Front of Screens Will Terrify You. Forbes. Retrieved from: forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2019/01/24/how-much-time-americans-spend-in-front-of-screens-will-terrify-you/#491db01b1c67

Gosewade, N., Shende, V., and Kashalikar, S. (2013). Effect of Various Eye Exercise Techniques along with Pranayama on Visual Reaction Time: A Case Control Study. PudMed.gov. 7(9): pp. 1870 – 1873. Retrieved from: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24179885/

Heid, M. (2019). Experts Say ‘How Much’ Is the Wrong Way to Assess Screen Time. Time. Retrieved from: time.com/5592329/experts-say-how-much-is-the-wrong-way-to-assess-screen-time/

Heiting, G. and Wan, L. (2019). Computer eye strain: 10 steps for relief. All About Vision. Retrieved from: allaboutvision.com/cvs/irritated.htm

Kim, S. (2016). Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 28(6): pp. 1813 – 1815. Retrieved from: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4932063/

Livingston, G. (2019). Americans 60 and older are spending more time in front of their screens than a decade ago. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/18/americans-60-and-older-are-spending-more-time-in-front-of-their-screens-than-a-decade-ago/

Sabel, B., et al. (2018). Mental stress as consequence and cause of vision loss: the dawn of payschosomatic ophthalmology for preventive and personalized medicine. EPMA Journal. 9: pp. 133 – 160. Retrieved from: link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13167-018-0136-8

Watson, K. (2020). Everything You Want to Know About Eye Yoga. Healthline. Retrieved from: healthline.com/health/eye-health/eye-yoga

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About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.