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It’s no secret that age affects our eyesight. But lifestyle factors can have a detrimental effect on our eyes, too. One that many of us are probably guilty of includes too much digital screen time. In fact, the modern phenomenon “computer vision syndrome,” is a direct result of spending too much time with digital screens and has resulted in everything from dry, irritated eyes to eye strain and a lack of visual sharpness.
For most of us, it’s almost impossible to avoid a computer screen. So, it can often feel like there aren’t many options when it comes to saving your vision, other than heading off to the eye doctor to get a prescription for glasses or contacts. However, according to the American Optometric Association, a prescription that works for general use may not be adequate for computer work or viewing on other screens.
The best advice to avoid computer vision syndrome would be to give your eyes a break. If your work requires you to be in front of a computer for eight hours a day, there’s not much you can do about that. But in your free time, ditch the electronic devices and choose a real old-fashioned book or magazine the next time you are reading for pleasure — and head outside.
It’s a practice that could actually improve the negative effects of computer vision syndrome, and here’s why…
Computer vision syndrome: It’s about the contrast
Contrast is what makes some stimuli stand out more than others. Black letters on a dark page produce more contrast than gray letters, so they can be seen more easily.
When viewing words on a computer or handheld device, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult.
Researchers from the State University of New York’s College of Optometry discovered that your brain’s ability to distinguish contrast goes up with increasing light levels.
Reading a book as well, inside where the light is dimmer, inhibits your ability to make out details, which of course, is not all that surprising.
On the other hand, taking that same book outside at noon makes it easier to read — but even more is taking place: The brighter light kicks your brain’s visual cells into high gear, improving your vision and allowing your brain to extract more information from your surroundings.
“Findings from the investigation conclude you can now feel good when you decide to read your favorite book outdoors,” say the SUNY researchers. But not only because you can see the page better. They say it is scientifically proven that visual contrast increases outdoors and, therefore, reading under bright outdoor light stimulates the visual brain more effectively, allowing you to not only see the letters better but also helping your eyesight in general.
Boosting your vision naturally
So if you want better vision, give yourself a break from the computer and spend time reading your favorite book outside on a daily basis. Or if you have some work-related reading, print it out and take it outside, if you can. But remember, the key is the bright light, so you’ll want to do it during the brighter morning hours or around noon, rather than later in the day.
What else can you do to fight the vision-stealing effects of digital screens? Here are a few tips…
#1 – Take short screen breaks
If you spend a lot of time on your computer or other devices, practice good eye hygiene by taking screen breaks. Even at the office, this is imperative.
Set an alarm that reminds you to reduce eye strain by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
#2 – Consider blue light glasses
Blue light glasses help filter the harmful blue-violet rays commonly emitted from digital screens. Blue light causes eye strain, headaches, disruptions in the sleep cycle and some research is investigating its effects on changes to the retina in age-related macular degeneration.
#3 – Increase eye-saving nutrients
One of the easiest ways to support better vision is to get plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin — the best nutrients for supporting eye health — in your diet. They occur together in foods like spinach, swiss chard, kale, pistachios and green peas.
#4 – Sunglasses
UV exposure can damage your eyes, leading to cataracts and even eye cancer. Always wear sunglasses with adequate UV protection, year-round.
Poor vision with age is anything but inevitable. But our modern habits aren’t helping the situation any. Try harder to reduce screen time and take advantage of healthier habits, including eye-saving nutrition, to hold on to healthy eyesight.
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How to improve and protect eyesight without glasses – MedicalNewsToday