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Keeping Your Distance
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September 05, 2017

Keeping Your Distance

Look Away Now: Opticians to highlight device dangers for National Eye Health Week

Urquhart Opticians, the award-winning independent group with practices in Kilmarnock, Troon, Prestwick and Glasgow, will be highlighting the dangers posed by too much screen time on VDUs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

And to promote this message, the team at Urquhart’s have arranged a talk at their flagship Kilmarnock practice on Tuesday 19th September where they will be offering tips for screen safety and providing an opportunity to ‘Ask the Expert’.

Peter Telfer, Business Partner of the Kilmarnock based opticians group, explained: “The first smartphone was marketed in 2000, almost 20 years ago and so Urquhart Opticians will be focussing on smart screen time for National Eye Health Week.

“The impact of screens on our vision is something patients are increasingly asking us about, and whilst we know that there are correlations between prolonged screen time and eye fatigue, we are only just beginning to understand the potential long-term effects of having screens around us 24/7. Throughout the week, each of our practices will be offering guidance and information on good practice for screen use. Plus, our Kilmarnock headquarters will open its doors on the 19th for patients to discuss any concerns they may have, and to learn about some of the latest eyewear developments designed especially for extensive screen use.”

Alistair Duff, Optometrist and Partner at Urquhart Opticians, added: “We know that prolonged use of screens can cause eye strain, fatigue, blurring, dry eyes and headaches. We also know that the blue light emitted by screens can affect sleeping patterns. However, up until a decade ago, that was mostly confined to people sitting behind a computer at work, and the guidance was that we ensure screens were set at a safe distance, breaks were taken regularly and, if necessary, anti-reflective coatings were applied to lenses.

“Now, an estimated 80% of adults have smartphones or tablets, and a computer at home. We use them before, during and after work, and even through the night, putting further strain on the eyes. Add to that, TVs, gaming, satnavs plus computer screens in the workplace or school, and it is clear why there is growing concern about the long-term impact all of this may have on our eyes and our vision. We are only just beginning to understand the effects of this explosion in screen time, so as Optometrists we want to ensure our patients are aware of the latest guidance, simple tips such as the 20:20:20 rule, and of the latest advances in lenses designed to mitigate against such effects.”

Places for the ‘Keeping Your Distance’ event are limited and anyone interested should register by calling Urquhart Opticians Kilmarnock Practice on 01563 525059. The evening starts at 6pm and refreshments will be provided.

Urquhart Opticians’ Top Tips for Healthy Screen Time

Everybody loves their smartphones – where would we be without them and our tablets, laptops, Fitbits, satnavs, Xboxes and TVs? All that screen time, though, can affect our eyes and we know too much can lead to eye fatigue, blurring, headaches and dry eyes. However, with the technology being so new, scientists are still working out what long- term effects all this might all have on our retinas and our vision. The key thing is to speak to your optometrist, and make sure you have regular eye tests every two years. In the meantime, here are some top tips designed to keep your eyes comfortable and healthy in the twenty-first century.

Keep your distance
Be mindful of keeping your screens at a reasonable distance from your face. It is recommended that computer screens should be 20-40 inches away, whilst handheld devices should be at a comfortable distance.

Look away now
The muscles in your eyes need to be rested and the 20:20:20 rule is a good habit to get into. Set the timer on your phone to go off after 20mins. When the alarm rings, look away and focus on something around 20metres away (e.g. out of the window) for a count of 20 seconds. That will give your eye muscles a chance to relax and recover. And whilst you’re at it, maybe stand up and take a walk or stretch too. Also note that too much close work can worsen myopia, or short-sightedness.

Be dim
Check the settings on your screen and set the brightness to a level you find comfortable. Remember that can vary depending on time of day and time of year - you may wish to dim the levels during winter months when we are exposed to even more artificial light.

In the dark
Whilst it’s so tempting, and often habitual, to use smartphones at bedtime, staring at screens in an otherwise darkened room puts additional strain on your eyes. Plus, if reading whilst lying down, be careful not to have one eye obscured by the pillow or your arm. Differentials in light exposure between your eyes can cause confusion, disorientation and further strain.

Get your coat
Glare from screens can be compounded by lighting, sunlight and even the reflection from walls, furnishings and windows. The effects can be significantly diminished by a specialist coating applied to the lenses of your glasses.

Varifocal vision
Varifocal lenses have been found to have a number of benefits for people working at computers. They can also have potential benefits to modern lifestyles by, for example, allowing wearers to see clearly the television and their handheld smartphone without having to remove or swap specs.

To find out more about National Eye Health Week see www.visionmatters.org.uk
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