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Do you suffer from dry, fatigued eyes, neck and back pain, poor sleep quality, anxiety, low mood or other mental health issues?

These symptoms could be a result of excessive screen time, which has become somewhat unavoidable in our post-COVID era. We are subject to hours of screen time for:

–       Work

–       Entertainment

–       Communicating with loved ones

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential long-term effects on our health, including obesity, sleep disorders, nerve problems, mental health issues, diabetes, and even permanent damage to our eyes. In this article, we’ll explore the risks of prolonged screen time and offer some solutions to help you prevent or alleviate these symptoms, so you can maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle.

One of the most common effects of prolonged screen time is on our eyes. Too much screen time can result in dry and fatigued eyes, which can lead to headaches and an inability to focus. Some studies suggest that prolonged screen time can negatively impact the retina. Additionally, the blue light emitted from screens can have detrimental effects on our sleep patterns, causing poor quality sleep and resulting in daytime sleepiness, which can ultimately impair our quality of life.

Prolonged screen time can also lead to back and neck pain and contribute to obesity due to reduced physical activity. These issues can cause nerve problems and diabetes. Studies have also shown that more screen time is associated with poorer mental health and depression, often caused by comparing oneself to others on social media or cyberbullying, as well as having fewer connections outside of screens.

Blue light is a type of high-energy visible light that is emitted from screens and can have harmful effects on our eyes. Excessive exposure to blue light can cause blurry vision, headaches, dry eyes, eye pains, and fatigue, as well as poor sleep quality.

One effective way to protect our eyes is by consuming antioxidants such as astaxanthin, which can neutralize harmful molecules such as free radicals and protect the retina and macula from sunlight and blue light damage. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that can also protect the skin from sunburns. Foods containing astaxanthin include:

– crab

– lobster

– shrimp

– fish

– red yeast and algae

Supplements of astaxanthin are also available, but it’s recommended to consult with a health professional before taking them.

Another way to minimize our exposure to blue light is by using blue light filtering glasses, which are becoming increasingly popular. These glasses have a blue light coating that can be applied to prescription glasses, making them more convenient for those who require vision correction.

In conclusion, screens are an integral and unavoidable aspect of our lives, and we should be more conscious of their usage to promote our health and well-being. By minimizing screen time as much as possible, incorporating foods containing antioxidants like astaxanthin, and using blue light-filtering glasses, we can protect our eyes and minimize the negative effects of prolonged screen time.

Dr Menka Gupta

IFMCP, MSc, MBBS

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