There has been concern about possible harm being caused to our eyes from staring at various screens for too long. Television screens, smart phones, tablets, computer screens, all play a huge part in our everyday lives. I often worry for our children and grandchildren who could be more affected than the older generation; they spend a lot of time using the available technology, both at school and at home. Tablets are a great asset to learning and in many ways invaluable, so how can we monitor their use? There have been worrying headlines in the media stating that visual problems are on the increase. It has been claimed that more children are becoming short-sighted now than ever before, and there has also been a rise in hearing problems due to overuse of headphones.
Many of us, myself included, spend more than a few hours a day sitting down staring at a computer screen; often it is the main feature of our working day.
Could we all really be damaging our health? What are the implications here as super technology isn’t going to go away? Indeed, the modern world couldn’t manage without it. It remains to be seen what new and amazing developments could be on the horizon, but how will these new developments affect our long term health? Of course, advancements in the field of medicine could help us tremendously so there are many positives as well as concerns.
I listened to the advice of an optometrist on the question of the increase in shortsightedness. The interesting, and encouraging news was this: yes there is a small increase in visual changes but this is not due to too much time staring at screens as we may have assumed – it is due to spending too much time indoors. Often children are not spending as much time outside in natural daylight as previous generations did. They are missing out on the amounts of natural light needed for eye health. I think this is actually good news! We have a remedy. Fresh air and exercise! We can’t stop our children using their screens and games but we can encourage plentiful amounts of outdoor play when they put the screens on idle for a while. I have yet to meet a child who turns down the chance of a game of football, climbing trees or a visit to the park!
Ever since Stone Age man trundled his way around the land, human beings have been filled with the desire to learn and to evolve. We have always found a way to adjust to modern ways of living and hopefully we always will. But sometimes it is good to take a look back at some of the ways of our ancestors and follow some of the older and perhaps, simpler ways of living now and again.
For those of us who tend to be desk bound, more serious problems could arise if we do not move around more. Sitting for long periods of time can do us untold damage in the long run. Scary stories abound about the results of sitting hunched over our desk for hours on end, including upping the risk of diabetes and cancer. But again, we can take simple steps to improve things. We cannot all change our daily work requirements, but we can make a difference to our daily routine and feel much better for it.
So there are a few simple solutions here:
We can encourage our children and grandchildren to enjoy outside play with us on a regular basis – leave the smartphones/tablets tucked away for a while!
When spending time in front of the computer screen encourage children (and yourself) to look away into the distance every twenty minutes. This alters focus and exercises the eye muscles. (As you get older it takes longer to re-adjust your focus)
Remind yourself to blink regularly when looking at the screen – we tend to shut off this natural response and can consequently suffer with dry, irritated eyes.
Even when working don’t sit for too long! Get up every half hour at least. Walk around the room. Stand up to talk on the phone. Go for a walk at lunch time if you can. Fetch a glass of water every so often.
If walking around listening to music on your headphones – turn the volume down a notch or two. Your ears will thank you in the future!
Don’t forget the sunscreen and the sunglasses if the sun is out!
‘Solvitur Ambulando’ – ‘It is solved by walking’.