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Avoiding Digital Eye Strain

While the benefits of technology on medicine are immeasurable, the toll the tech can take on your eyesight can be great. Dr. Hamed Anwar from Moorfields offers simple ways to protect your eyes from devices.


It only takes two hours of staring at a screen continuously before your eyes begin to feel uncomfortable. Once your eyes start to feel that way, they’ve reached a state that’s known as digital eye strain. The average adult usually spends around five to six hours on the internet per day. But unsurprisingly, that figure is higher in kids. It’s estimated that around 20% of children aged 8 or younger use smartphones, while some 89% of teenagers use social media world-wide. Doing the maths, this means that children are reaching the point of digital eye strain two to three times daily. One of the simplest and most effective ways of dealing with eye strain is to schedule frequent breaks while using digital devices, following the 20-20-20 rule. This involves taking a 20 second break, every 20 minutes where you look into the distance at an object 20 feet away.


When you use a computer or handheld device for extended periods of time, you start slouching inwards, while your head goes back and your chin tilts upwards. This unnatural sort of posture is called “turtling” and is typically associated with overuse of digital devices. The simplest way to address this is to adjust your posture during your scheduled 20-20-20 breaks. Even better, try and walk around a bit during these breaks.


Recent research has shown a strong association of myopia with excessive use of digital devices. The prevalence of myopia has increased in the past few decades in tandem with increased screen time. It’s thought that fatigue and eye strain are associated with the onset and worsening of myopia. By practising the 20-20-20 rule, we can decrease eye fatigue and therefore reduce the risk of myopia progression.


Most blue light exposure is usually from the sun, however it’s thought that additional amounts of high energy blue light emitted from LED screens may place people at a higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases like age related macular degeneration later on in life. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…


Try to schedule digital detox times during the day, to encourage other activities and reduce children’s fixation on digital devices, relax the eyes, reduce blue light exposure and to use the time to connect as a family.


Try to schedule annual eye check ups for your children with a pediatric ophthalmologist before the school year starts. This is an excellent opportunity to not only check your children’s eyes health, but also allows for specific recommendations to be made to reduce the risks of digital

eye strain. In conclusion, digital devices have tremendous educational benefits, but unless their use is properly supervised, they can cause damage as well. The key lies in supervising their use and educating children about their risks. If you suspect your child is experiencing eye strain, it’s best to get them seen by an ophthalmologist.

For more information, please visit


By Dr. Hamed Anwar, Consultant Corneal and Refractive Surgeon, Moorfields Eye Hospital Center, Abu Dhabi


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+971 2 635 6161
Moorfields Eye Hospital, Marina Village, Al Marina - Abu Dhabi

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