Six myths that may ruin your sight
Eye Health Ceri Smith-Jaynes, high street optometrist and spokesperson for the Association of Optometrists (AOP), busts some of the most common myths relating to eye sight.
You can spend as much time as you like on a screen
Ceri says: “When you spend a lot of time looking at screens, this can cause eye strain. It’s really common: 90 per cent of optometrists say they have seen it in the past month.
Eye strain does not cause permanent eye damage but it can cause temporary blurred vision, sore, tired and dry eyes, and headaches. When you concentrate on a screen you also tend to blink less – perhaps, up to four times less often – which can make the eyes even more dry.”
For parents there is more information on screen time in this AOP leaflet.
Using a filter/special coating means I can spend more time on my screen
Ceri says: “Some people say that lens coatings that filter blue light – the light given off by digital screens – can make their eyes feel more comfortable, but there is no clear scientific evidence to support this. Nor is there clear evidence that these kinds of coatings prevent eye disease.”
It doesn’t matter when I look at my phone
Using screens close to bedtime may make it harder to sleep well. The thinking is that the screen’s blue light reduces levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. But, concentrating on something just before bed also stimulates the brain, making it harder to nod off. Ideally, screens should be turned off at least an hour before bed. If this is impossible, turn on your device’s night settings to reduce the amount of blue light.”
A screen break needs to last at least five minutes
Ceri says: “Twenty seconds can be enough to ease eye strain. To help you remember, you can follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. And, set a ‘blink rule’ to remind you to always blink at a certain point – at the start or the end of a piece of work, for example.”
There’s nothing I can do to avoid short-sightedness; it runs in our family
Ceri says: “Certainly, your family history, ethnic background, environment (living indoors, in cities) and carrying out near-tasks, such as using a screen, are all possible risks for developing myopia (short-sightedness). But, children who spend more time outdoors can actually lower their risk; ideally, children should spend at least two hours outside each day.”
If I can see well, I don’t need to see an optometrist
Ceri says: “Most people think an optometrist is just checking to see if you need glasses. In fact, they are also looking at the health of your eye, and for clues about your general health. Eye diseases such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can be detected well before they cause symptoms and when they can be treated more easily - often avoiding surgery or permanent sight loss.”