Digital Eye Strain

DIGITAL LIFE 
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Statistic of digital media usage among Malaysians

How many hours do you spend in front of a digital screen?

Most of us spend majority of our waking hours staring at digital screens. On average, Malaysians spend almost 9 hours per day on the internet via desktop and mobile screens. And that’s more than your average sleeping hours!

We are either working, reading & typing messages, playing games or watching youtube & movies on our digital devices from the wake of dawn till late in the night. Latest research findings from Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Global market research company show constant connectivity and digital media have enabled Malaysians to leap-frog to be one of the most socially engaged markets in the world. According to findings from TNS’s Connected Life study released on September, 2014, over three fifths (62%) of Internet users in Malaysia access social media networks daily, compared to 42% globally, whilst 52% use instant messaging every day.

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For over a third of Internet users in Malaysia, the screen of their mobile phone is the first face they see in the morning; 35% of Internet users in Malaysia reach for their mobile phone before they even get out of bed, whilst a similar number (34%) use their phone in bed before they go to sleep.

This phone usage contributes to the 4.5 hours of leisure time Internet users in Malaysia spend online every day. Much of this screen time is spent in staying more connected. And whilst almost three fifths (59%) admit to spending a lot of their time on social media, email is still an important channel, with over 58% sending personal emails on a daily basis.

Facebook is by far the most popular application, with almost half of Malaysian Internet users identifying it as their favourite social platform (48%) and 88% visiting the site weekly. WhatsApp is not far behind for weekly use, at 72% of Malaysian Internet users, however it’s the favorite platform for just one fifth of the population (19%).

References:
1. TNS. Malaysian Internet users amongst the global social leaders.
2. Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide in 2015.

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DIGITAL EYE STRAIN
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Digital eye strain, also referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, is the physical discomfort experienced by many individuals after two or more hours in front of a digital screen i.e. computer, tablet and smartphones. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.

The most common symptoms associated with overexposure to digital devices are:

  • Eyestrain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck/ shoulder/ back pain
  • Blurred vision

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These symptoms may be caused by:

  • Poor lighting
  • Screen glare
  • Improper viewing distances
  • Uncorrected vision problems such as farsightedness and astigmatism
  • A combination of these factors

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Digital eye strain, also referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, is the physical discomfort experienced by many individuals after two or more hours in front of a digital screen i.e. computer, tablet and smartphones. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.

The most common symptoms associated with overexposure to digital devices are:

  • Eyestrain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck/ shoulder/ back pain

» show more

These symptoms may be caused by:

  • Poor lighting
  • Screen glare
  • Improper viewing distances
  • Uncorrected vision problems such as farsightedness and astigmatism
  • A combination of these factors

» show less

Here are tips you can take to reduce your risk of digital eye strain and other common symptoms of digital eye strain:

Concentrated in the lenses, retina and macula, both Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the only two powerful antioxidant carotenoids that provide protection to the eyes against harmful blue light from digital devices including smartphone, computer, television, tablets etc.

Consider installing a screen glare filter, these filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen. If you wear glasses, you can ask your optometrist about lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces reflection and glare from indoor and outdoor lighting sources. Besides that, frequently dust and wipe device screens to help reduce glare.

Overhead and surrounding light competes with your digital’s screen, and doubles amount of blue light penetrating your eye. Strive to match the room lighting to the brightness of your devices to further ease strain. Your lighting should be about half as bright as that of normal office levels.

Create a comfortable distance for viewing. When using a computer, first sit in your chair and extend your arm. It is ideal to sit an arm’s-length away from the computer screen, ideally 20 to 28 inches from your eyes. Adjust the screen so that it is directly in front of your face and 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. Do not tilt a computer monitor. Tilting your computer screen can also be hard on your neck and back.

Handheld devices should be kept a safe distance from your eyes and just below eye level. While you may be able to read better at a short distance, however getting too close to the screen can cause irritated eyes, back and neck pain.

Staring at a screen for long periods can significantly decrease our blinking rate, which leads to dry eyes. To prevent dry and tired eyes, remind yourself to blink more often. Blinking moistens the front surface of your eyes.

To prevent eyestrain, take frequent breaks when using the computer for long periods. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Apply the 20-20-20 rule, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing; look into the distance 20 feet away for 20 seconds to allow the eye muscles to relax.

Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort. There are coatings available which filter out damaging blue light emitted by digital screens, prevent from eye fatigue and eye strain.

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of your screen. Consider changing the background color from bright white to cool gray.
  • Text size. Increase font size to help you better define the content on your screen. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.

Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome.

» view references

References:
1. The vision council. 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report.
2. The vision council. 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report.
3. American Optometric Association. 2016.0Suggestions for Computer Vision Syndrome Sufferers.
4. American Optometric Association. 2016. Computer Vision Syndrome.

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