This quick CNN quiz hit it on the head: I'm completely addicted to my phone. While I can appreciate the increased connectivity and access to knowledge, there are definitely drawbacks to always having my eyes glued to a screen.
After experiencing constant dry and fatigued eyes, headaches, and sleep issues, I realized I am probably suffering from Digital Eye Strain (DES). This is classified by extended screen use, whether that’s on a desktop monitor, laptop, phone, or tablet - symptoms include eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and neck and back pain. The average American now spends 7.5 hours a day in front of computer screens and this is not without consequences. According to The Vision Council, 200 million Americans already report symptoms of DES.
That’s more than 50% of the entire country! And this number is increasing by 7% per generation because younger generations use screens even more.
Dots started connecting: even when I was exhausted, it took me hours to fall asleep. A device that offers me so much productivity (and plenty of distractions) shouldn’t also have negative effects, right?
In my junior year of high school, I had a taste of the screen-less life. I participated in a semester-long program in rural Vermont where I, alongside 44 other high school juniors, took classes and lived/worked on a farm. While there was wi-fi in the classroom, we were completely unplugged in the dining hall, dorms, and anywhere else on our campus. My screen time was, therefore, pretty minimal: I used my computer to type essays that I couldn’t write by hand, and took photos on my phone if I wasn't able to bring my camera. In the middle of the semester, I actually lost my phone and didn't realize it for almost a month! And goodness did my eyes feel the healthy difference.
The digital eye strain I had been feeling and fully noticed after my screen-free semester is completely addressable, though, thanks to some stylish blue-light filtering eyewear called Felix Grays ;) Since donning these computer glasses, I rest more wholesomely, and my eyes are less dry and fatigued at the end of each day.