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Tips for Tennesseans to Avoid Eyestrain, Vision Problems

With the increased use of digital devices and computers in daily life, people are exposed to more and more blue light.

Staying connected may be important, but health experts — including in Tennessee — say prolonged exposure poses health risks to be aware of.

Sunlight may be the major source, but digital screens also emit blue light.

Christine Shieh, cornea specialist and assistant professor at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute said electronic blue-light exposure can affect a person’s circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles.

“Most scientists and ophthalmologists would say that there is some interesting literature that blue-light exposure from our electronic devices can make it harder for us to go to sleep at night,” Shieh explained. “There’s a general body of consensus — including, you know, from various professional organizations — that limiting electronic use before bedtime will help people go to sleep.”

She added other vision problems from staring at screens are not necessarily due to blue light. Eyestrain, known as “computer vision syndrome” can be complex. To avoid it, experts recommend what’s known as the “20-20-20 rule”: Look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Dr. Scott Edmonds, chief eye care officer for UnitedHealthcare Vision, said it is important to know the warning signs you are looking at screens and digital devices too long.

“People that work on screens all the time will report that their eyes feel scratchy or burning,” Edmonds outlined. “They often notice that the print goes in and out of focus; their eyes may tear; they get red and irritated. People can get headaches, brain fog – those are kind of the things that mean you’ve really been on that screen too long.”

Edmonds suggested annual eye exams to help keep your eyes healthy throughout your life and identify the sources of eyestrain. He added certain diseases, such as glaucoma, can ultimately damage a person’s sight, and by the time it is diagnosed, it might be too late to avoid vision loss.

 

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 4,002 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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