Business of Health Care: Screen Time - Adults

Nov 1, 2019

We often worry about how much time our kids spend in front of a screen, and particularly the link between screen time and childhood obesity. But too much screen time isn't just a problem for kids. 

According to one study, the average adult office worker spends about 1,700 hours a year in front of a screen - and that doesn't include smartphones and other handheld devices. 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, all this screen time has led to a surge in patients suffering from eye strain, headaches, dry eye and other ailments. 

When we're staring at screens, we tend to blink less, which is what leads to this dry or strained feeling in the eyes. 

Also, by staring at a screen of virtually any type for hours, our exposure to blue light emitted by these devices also increases. 

Blue light can affect the body's circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep/wake cycle and therefore can hamper our ability to sleep. 

Unfortunately, due to the modern work environment, significantly cutting back on screen time isn't an option. 

However, there are some things you can do to help limit its limpact on eyesight and sleep. 

First, sit at least 25 inches away and position the screen at a slightly downward angle. 

Second, try a matte filter to reduce glare. Also, remember to blink and to follow the 20-20-20 rule - every 20 minutes stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

Finally, turn off your devices at least an hour before bed. Your body needs the rest for all the screen time you'll be getting tomorrow.