Experts in Panhandle share how increased screen time can negatively affect the eyes

Experts in Panhandle share how increased screen time can negatively affect the eyes

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Many people’s eyes in the Panhandle area are being affected by the increased screen time that the pandemic has caused.

February is known by some to be one of optometry’s busiest months, but this year some optometrists say it’s busier than ever.

“It’s a lot, our numbers have just skyrocketed, we’re seeing so many more patients than normal,” said Shauna Thornhill, owner of Amarillo Vision Specialists.

Because of the pandemic, all ages are having an increase of screen time.

“Patients went from a six to eight-hour day on the computer to all waking hours,” said Amy Bishop, owner of Family Eye Care.

“Everything we’re doing is on screen, we’re doing it on multiple devices too, it’s not just our computer it’s our phone it’s our tablet, it’s our world,” said Thornhill.

Thornhill says before the pandemic, people were on screens ten hours a day, now its up to 13.

She says we tend to blink 66 percent less while on a digital device which is causing our eyes to be strained.

“It’s kind of like their doing bicep curls all day long those muscles fatigue out, that’s what is happening to our eyes,” said Thornhill.

This is leading to people having dryer eyes that can lead to problems if not treated and some are irreversible.

“Dryness left untreated can cause lots of discomfort, a lot of the burning, itching, tearing, watering eyes and long-term it can lead to scarring, which can cause long term visual effects, basically blindness if left untreated for long periods of time,” said Thornhill.

Some people who are staring at screens more say one device called blue light glasses are actually helping their eyes during the pandemic.

They say they are helping them sleep better at night as well as reduce eye strain for people who stare at computers for hours at a time.

Bishop says blue light glasses have been an ongoing study, but so far some of her patients say it’s working.

“Pretty much 70 to 80 percent of patients that are buying glasses are putting it on there,” said Bishop.

“Blue light is the real hot topic in the eye world right now and sales of blue blocking lenses have skyrocketed, now the evidence of that shows blue blocking lenses maybe doesn’t reduce eye strain,’ said Thornhill. “We don’t really have a lot of evidence showing that works, however we have lots of patients that swear by those lenses so it can’t hurt.”

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