In this day and age, it can be really hard to get away from screens.
We work on computer screens, relax in front of TV screens, and get more information and news than ever on our phone screens.
It’s a huge advance in technology, but like so many things, it’s a blessing and curse.
On the one hand, screens help long-lost sisters like these adopted twins reconnect online. On the other hand, too much screen time could be drastically damaging our health.
There’s even evidence that screen time rewires our brains, especially for little ones.
Even in the short term, there’s something called “screen fatigue,” which is what happens to your body when you spend too much time staring at a screen.
It’s terrifying to contemplate, but time in front of the computer or the smartphone can damage everything from our eyes to our sleep cycles.
Scroll through below to learn if you have the symptoms.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons
What Is Screen Fatigue?
“Screen fatigue” is also called computer vision syndrome, or CVS, and it’s incredibly common.
According to WebMD, screen fatigue is actually a group of disorders that develops from moving your eyes in a repetitive motion; being on a computer screen forces your eyes to refocus over and over again and damages your eyes in the process.
It’s a condition that affects millions of Americans who work on computers, but can be triggered by any screen — smartphones and laptops are two major causes.
Symptom #1: Struggling To See
Screen fatigue starts in your eyes, and that’s where you’ll see some of the earliest and most serious symptoms.
After just a few hours on the computer, you might notice your vision gets blurry and that your distance vision is particularly bad, even if you’re wearing contacts or glasses.
The blurring is not permanent, but as eye strain builds up over time, it might be harder to recover your vision.
Symptom #2: Double Vision
Symptom #3: Bloodshot Eyes
It’s shocking and terrifying to look up from your computer one day and discover that a blood vessel in your eye has burst or is on the verge of breaking.
Fortunately, it’s not usually a serious condition and should heal on its own, especially if you give your eyes a rest.
Meanwhile, if you don’t take a screen vacation, it’s more likely to happen again and again, and may in some cases lead to serious complications.
Symptom #4: Uncontrollable Itching
When you stare at a screen for an extended period of time, your eyes start to dry out and lose their moisture.
The real problem here isn’t the itching, but the temptation to rub your eyes and ease the irritation.
Rubbing your eyes is very dangerous for your body, and can lead to scratched corneas, infections, and even permanent vision loss.
Symptom #6: Sore, Stiff Neck
If you spend a lot of time scrolling through apps on your phone, this is one to look out for.
When we’re fixated on a screen, we tend to hold our necks in a stiff, irregular position, which can cause the muscles to lock into place and leave you with a crick until the muscles relax again.
There’s even a term called “text neck”, which describes the neck getting stuck in a downward arc from looking at a phone screen too much.
Symptom #6: Pain In Your Spine
Back pain is a familiar symptom for most of us, but there’s something especially painful about pain that comes from sitting at the computer.
In an office setting, lots of us end up hunched in front of our screen without even realizing it.
The slumping causes our spines to lock into weird positions and can lead to intense back pain and potentially serious spine problems down the line.
Symptom #7: Severe Headache
If you’ve never had a migraine before, it’s hard to imagine the intense, debilitating pain.
Unfortunately, the strain of focusing on a screen can trigger migraines (even for people who have never had one) and lead to intense headache and nausea.
This is especially true in older adults, who have less flexible lenses in their eyes, and might be more prone to eye strain.
If you experience any of these symptoms, set a new policy to never stare at your screen for more than 20 minutes without a break.
Learn more from the American Optometric Association, and don’t forget to SHARE these important warning signs.