Most of us spend too long working at the computer every day, which isn’t good for our eyes. But is there a link between myopia and computer use? Here we’ll take a look at the effects of screen time on vision, and explore the relationship between computer use and high myopia.
Causes of myopia
Myopia is a common eye condition. It’s also known as near-sightedness or short-sightedness, because people with myopia can see things close-up but have difficulty focusing on objects in the distance. High myopia is an extreme form of short-sightedness that affects anyone with a prescription of -6.00D or higher.
Myopia is caused by the shape of the eye. If this is too long, the light entering the eye doesn’t focus in the right place on the retina, so objects in the distance look blurry. Myopia runs in families, so there are genetic factors at play; however, environmental factors can also make its development more likely. Research shows that people who spend a lot of time indoors, or who do a lot of close-up reading (looking at books, tablets, phones and computers), are more likely to become short-sighted.
Screen time and eye health
We’ve seen that computer use and myopia may be linked, so if you do spend long periods of time in front of a screen, it’s important to do what you can to reduce the risk.
In addition to the possibility of developing myopia, excessive screen use can also lead to something called computer vision syndrome, a collection of symptoms that include eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, discomfort and redness. These symptoms happen due to a combination of the glare from the screen, and the strain of maintaining focus on one point for an extended period of time.
To protect your eyes and mitigate the effects of computer use, make sure you take regular screen breaks. Step away from your desk every 20 minutes to give your eyes a rest. If possible, get outside for a walk in the sunshine during your lunchbreak.
If you do develop myopia, you’re not alone. It’s thought that as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK are short-sighted, and that figure is growing.
By having regular eye tests, you will be able to get your myopia diagnosed quickly and treated easily as soon as it develops. It’s important to do this, because trying to carry on without corrective treatment can strain your eyes.
Myopia can be treated using glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. All of these treatments work on the same principle, correcting the way that light is focused in your eyes to help you focus on distant objects once again. Laser eye surgery is a permanent form of vision correction that works by altering the shape of the cornea. After the procedure your eye prescription will return to normal, and you can avoid all the inconveniences of wearing glasses and changing contacts.
Find out more about laser eye surgery as a treatment for myopia.