Almost everyone knows about Amazon’s Kindle role in promoting e-reading culture. The time most people spend looking at a screen has rapidly increased. If people are not looking at their smartphones, they are at work on the computer, and will also likely to stay tuned into the online spheres like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat etc. Shelves of books are being replaced by a single e-book reader; and television shows and movies are available anywhere, any time.No doubt this extra screen time mean different outcomes for our eyes. I had a healthy convo with a female friend who shared how she’s struggling to cope with her daily life and is working on a plan to decelerate her e-book addiction. Some call it one of the many digital myths of our lives and while others feel the e-books addiction leads to serious eyesight problems. According to scientific evidence available, once we reach teenage years, it is practically impossible to injure the eyes by looking at something, the exception, of course, being staring at the sun or similarly bright objects. As a tween, what we look at or rather, how clearly one see can affect his or her vision because the neural pathways between the eye and brain are still developing.Science shows that for example when I read off a piece of paper, light from the ambient environment is reflected off the surface of the paper and into my eyes. The retina at the back of the eye captures the light and begins the process of converting it into a signal that the brain understands. In my friend’s case, the process of e-books reading from screens is similar, except that the light is emitted directly by the screen, rather than being reflected.She actually worries about the radiation coming from screens but there’s nothing unhealthy about it according to science. The radiation is, for the most part, just visible light, which is why anyone can see the screen in the first place. Science shows that most of the other emissions that lie outside of the visual spectrum are either low energy and not harmful, or absorbed by one of the front few layers of the eye, including the tear film.
She complained that prolonged periods looking at a screen gives her headaches and sore eyes. This is perhaps a reflection of the fact that, when looking at a screen and focusing on nearby objects, her eyes are not really doing what they’ve been designed for. Science shows that eye evolved predominantly to be able to look out over and for occasional requirement to look at things up close.It also says that any person can look up close when the lens inside the eye accommodates which requires contraction of muscles inside the eye. When an individual fixate on a nearby object such as a screen, he or she also must turn eyes inwards in what science call convergence. With hours on a screen, the muscles of accommodation and convergence can fatigue and give rise to the symptoms scientists call eye strain. In my friend experience, this could be one of the most common causes of headache in her for working on screens all day.This doesn’t mean that screens cause permanent harm to her, the symptoms should spontaneously resolve when she take a break. Otherwise, spectacles can do a little of the focusing work required to look at a screen.Am sure my friend is just one of those whose eyesights have deteriorated because of heavy screen use especially increased reading like e-books.Science shows that from teenage, the ability to accommodate gradually decline as the lens inside the eye stiffens. By the fourth decade, accommodation has reduced to the point where reading up close can be problematic. Those stubborn enough to persist eventually present with eyestrain.When my friend suggested that I start to read on kindle many years back, I gave her the response, that I’m a dinosaur and will forever prefer the feel of hard copy books and nothing else. The aforementioned female friend addiction with e-books began when her ex boyfriend started complaining about her keeping the light on at night while she was reading hard copies. Fortunately for your blogger, thats a problem he will never face.