Eye Strain: A growing epidemic in a connected world

3:07 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- An eye strain epidemic?

It's a medical issue that effects millions of people every day.

From smart phones to computers to videos games to tablets, we are a world hooked on screens.

We take in this constant stream of information and images with our eyes.

"People... if you ask them what the sense that is most important to them is, it's their eyesight," said Dr. Amy Babuich, an Opthamologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Like any part of the human body, there's only so much our eyes can take.

Quiz: Do you have eye strain?

Opthamologists are now seeing more patients come in complaining of eye strain -- tired, dry, watery, irritated, blurry eyes.

"They just feel exhausted," Babuich said.

Even more alarming is how prevalent this problem has become.

"We do see it in all age levels, as opposed to just seeing it in patients 30 and over, and seeing it just from their jobs," Babuich explained.

In fact, Babuich has seen patients as young as 8 years old complaining of eye strain.

The more time we spend staring at screens, the less our eyes have a chance to rest. The more tired our eyes become, the slower they are to readjust.

You'll often notice that after you stare at a screen for too long and then try to look out into the distance, your vision may be blurry before clearing up.

"That's the mechanism behind the idea that this would cause long term effects and [make] your vision worse," Babuich explained. 

While recent studies have come up inconclusive when it comes to permanent damage, eye strain is a proven medical problem.

Preventing Eye Strain

So how can you combat every day eye strain? Believe it or not, a little day dreaming can help. For every thirty minutes your eyes are trained on a screen, take a minute or two to stare off into space. It allows your eyes to readjust and relax.

Other solutions? Artificial tears. They help re-hydrate and soothe your eyes. And if all else fails? Try putting a warm compress on your eyes.




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