By: Kiera Kofkin-Hansen
Due to school being moved online for at least the remainder of the first semester, the amount of time students are spending throughout the day looking at screens has risen tremendously. Students spend on average six hours a day staring into a device, and that’s just the time spent in class. The effect online school has on students’ mental health is known, but little is discussed about the physical effects the new normal of a school day has on students’ health.
“Eyes are the windows to the soul,” and it’s important that they’re protected. The short term effects of staring at screens for elongated periods of time include eye fatigue and eye irritation. The long term effects, however, are much more concerning. These effects can include loss of focus flexibility (the ability to quickly change focus) in our eyes, nearsightedness, and retinal damage.
Digital devices release blue light, similar to the light produced by the sun. It’s common knowledge that staring directly into the sun is damaging for the eyes, and hence, constant screen time can have a similar effect.
In order to combat the eye strain caused by constantly staring into screens, many students have begun to invest in “Blue Light Glasses.” These are non-prescription glasses used for the sole purpose of protecting one’s eyes from the light produced by technology. These glasses weaken the strength of the blue light coming from screens and gives the wearers’ vision a slight yellow tint. A Cary High senior, Scott Gates, said about his blue light glasses, “They’ve definitely helped with headaches and my eyes getting dry. I didn’t realize how much spending all day-everyday on my laptop was hurting me.”
Although blue light glasses have become one of the more popular ways students have dealt with the eye-harming ways of online school, there are many other ways to help defend your eyes against blue light. Turning down the brightness of your screens and limiting time spent on screens other than when required by school are both small ways that you can significantly help the strain that has recently been placed on your eyes.
No matter what the best solution is for you, it’s important to protect your eyes. They’re the only ones you’ve got!