Sophie's World Blog

Health Side Effects of too Much Electornics II.

Destroying eyes and brain

Health Side Effects of too Much Electornics II.

I think many of us remember when we were kids and we were watching TV and we're standing or sitting too close to the television. Our parents constantly asked us to step back because it will cause damage to our eyes. Electronic devices have gone a long way since that but the possibility of damage is still there.

It’s absolutely true that the usage mechanisms of devices has developed so much that the risk has decreased, but we need to know that it’s not gone. Especially if we think that the time we spend with electronics has increased and multiplied.

The physiological background of staring at a screen

When we are working in front of a screen or playing on a tablet, our eyes need to constantly fix its focus. By moving back and forth, and aligning with what you are seeing, this requires the brain to interpret the picture you see. All of these functions require a lot of effort from eye muscles. Besides, the contrast is more sharp and this alone can make the eyes tired.

This whole process is more demanding for the eyes than working with papers or reading a book. When you take a look at your notes and look back on the screen, the eyes have to refocus again.

As years pass and the muscles of the eyes get older, they become too loose and have less ability to focus so it needs more work from them to get the right focus.

So as you see, working on a computer demands constant corrections from your eyes and this is the main cause why it makes your eyes tired and burning.

Screens cause real damage

It’s a fact that almost 50-90% of people who work with a computer and spend most time of their working hours staring at a screen, develop eye problems. The most common is Computer Vision Syndrome, which is caused by the constant repetition of the same eye movement. Unfortunately, it's not only adults that develop this problem now since tablets and smartphones have spread all over the world. It’s a real danger for our children too. As adults, we can recognize the problem and link the symptoms as they arise, but kids won’t. They are only enjoying games and continue playing on the tablet even though their eyes are dry and burning.

For so many times, adults also skip breaks during work, but it’s not a waste of time like they think it is, it’s a prevention.

Staring at a screen, smartphone, television, or tablests (video games) causes eye fatigue which you may experience with:

  • Discomfort
  • Double vision
  • Significant change in vision

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome

Before you could notice these symptoms, you may feel significant eyestrain and discomfort. Everybody knows the feeling when your eyes feel as if they have sand in them.

These symptoms won’t necessarily lead to computer vision syndrome, but if you feel that your eyes are tired or you have a headacheat the end of the day, you must adjust the position of your desk and screen, the distance between you and the screen, and your breaks within working hours.

If your kid’s eyes are red in the morning, and you have seen him playing on his tablet the night before, start to monitor his habits, because playing isn't a good reason to destroy his eyes (not that there is a good reason).

If you have Computer vision syndrome, you may experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Sore or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck or back pain
  • Increased sensitivity to light

If these symptoms are not treated, they can have a real effect on your work performance, and more importantly, on your health!

What causes the damage inside if the outer damage is the eye problem?

All the pictures we see is generated in our brain. All that we see must be processed by our brain, which constantly works all day. Because of technological development, almost every person in the world has their own smartphone or other devices, so the time we spend using these devices increased dramatically. I am terrified that little kids already have their own smartphones, only because their classmates have theirs too. They won’t talk or text a lot using those devices, but will play a lot. Right after they get home, they start to play on the tablet… They stare at a screen almost all day, except when they need to learn or sleep.

The problem is not only about the damage it creates on their eyes, but the damage inside: in their developing brain.
We are responsible whether or not we allow them to be addicted to their devices. Usage of devices these days starts so early that you can see 2-year-old kids handle smartphones almost like experts. If they are exposed to these devices early, it would mean that their early ages will involve less outdoor or other activities that don't require the use of gadgets.

Addiction grows as your child ages and if you notice even just one of these, I think you are in trouble:

  • Attention deficit, cognitive delays, and impaired learning
  • Language Development delay for toddlers
  • Delayed development caused by less active play
  • Learning problems (if math examples can be easily solved on the iPad, who needs to learn how to do it on your own?)
  • Mental illnesses

What’s the connection between insomnia, bad sleep, and artificial light?

Melatonin is the hormone that our body produces while we are sleeping and gives us good sleep. Melatonin production decreases if any light is turned on in the bedroom, even if it’s a night light. The worse that you can do is to check your mails before sleeping as research have demonstrated that white and blue lights have the most suppressive effect on producing melatonin.

Unfortunately, lack of melatonin not only causes insomnia, but suffering from it for a long time causes cardiometabolic consequences such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease.

You might argue that you only check mails for only a minute, but you have to know that the screen of smartphones are close to direct sunlight when it comes to their lux values. Here you can find an interesting article about lux values.

How to decrease the risk?

For kids, you need to be conscious and monitor their playing habits and time. What they get used to in the early times, they will consider as normal. Try to set their habits right from the very beginning.

For yourself, set your working circumstances to your body’s demand.

  • Reduce the glare by changing the lighting around you. If needed, move the monitor or desk, and close the shades until the glare disappears. Putting a glare filter over the screen monitor can also provide protection.
  • Optimise the position of your workplace. The optimal position for your computer monitor is slightly below eye level, about the length of one arm from the face.
  • Use the break opportunity and give your eyes a short rest. If eyes are getting overly dry, try using lubricating eye drops.
  • Revise the basic settings on your computer according to your demands. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size until you find the best settings for your vision.

You better know that eye irritations worsen if combined with lack of sleep as it may also cause insomnia. You need to stop the problems from the very beginning.

Prevention is always easier than fixing problems especially when we are talking about our health.

http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome

http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/eye-fatigue-causes-symptoms-treatment

http://www.motherearthliving.com/smart-parenting/kids-and-gadgets-effects-of-electronic-media-on-developing-brains.aspx

http://www.displaymate.com/Smartphone_Brightness_ShootOut_1.htm

http://chriskresser.com/how-artificial-light-is-wrecking-your-sleep-and-what-to-do-about-it

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

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Copyright: Zsófia Michelin-Corporatum Oy, Content pictures copyrigh: Shutterstock, Development: e-Com