Over the past few decades, screens have grown increasingly important within the education sector. From laptops to smart whiteboards, these digital tools are incredibly useful in helping to diversify the teaching/ learning experience. They can help us to impart or understand knowledge in an entirely different way, while also giving us access to a wealth of information for further learning beyond the classroom.
However, whether you’re a teacher or student, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact that digital screens can have on your health – most notably your eye health – and to adopt good habits when using screens to prevent forming any long-term issues in relation to their use.
In this post, we explore exactly how screen time can impact your eye health, and provide suggestions to help both teachers and students to form more healthy relationships with their digital devices.
The most prominent health issue associated with excessive screen time is eye strain. There are lots of different symptoms that you may notice, including sore or itchy eyes, double vision and headaches. When we use a computer for a prolonged period of time, different factors may contribute to eye strain. For instance, you’re likely to blink less when staring at a screen which can make your eyes feel drier and more irritated. In addition, any glare or reflections on the screen can force our eyes to work harder, contributing to the strained feeling.
If screens are essential to your daily work, there are several things you can do to prevent eye strain from affecting your vision. Firstly, your optician may be able to prescribe glasses that make it easier on your eyes when looking at a digital screen. Special lenses or coatings can be used to maximise your visual ability, so it’s worth experimenting with a few options. Secondly, teachers are advised to factor regular breaks away from screens into their lessons. Looking at printed text is less demanding on our eyes than looking at screens, so be sure to diversify your lesson plans to give students a chance to refocus their eyes.
Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a condition that affects people of all ages. Someone living with this condition will find distant objects appear blurry, which can present a challenge in different aspects of everyday life. In the classroom, this can make it difficult to see whiteboards or a TV screen clearly.
While there are several potential reasons why someone could become nearsighted, there have been strong links drawn between the condition and excessive screen time. In fact, one study found that high levels of screen time on smart devices and computers contributed to an 80% higher risk of users developing myopia.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself is by adopting responsible screen use habits, including taking regular breaks and ensuring you have an optimal desk setup. However, different treatments – including eye drops and specialist lenses – can also be helpful in preventing myopia, so it’s important to speak to your optician regularly about your eye health.
Screens are an integral part of education and are relied upon every single day by teachers and pupils. As such, it’s important that we develop a more healthy relationship with them, to protect our health now and in the future. Developing these good habits – and passing them on to your students – will allow everyone to optimise their screen use without adversely affecting the quality of your vision.