The problem with digital screens is that they emit blue light. Blue light can cause eye strain (prevalent in 91% of adults between the ages of 18-39), damage the retina, and lead to long-term vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration. Screen time also causes difficulties with sleeping since blue light mimics daylight, which then reduces the amount of melatonin we release. More than 80% of adults use digital screens in the hour before they go to bed, which is problematic.
Increased screen time is also linked to some other health conditions, from obesity to diabetes. A study of 50,000 middle-aged women found that every two hours spent watching television resulted in a 23% increase in becoming obese and a 14% increased risk of developing diabetes. A 2011 study found that 2+ hours of recreational screen time even increases the risk of death by as much as 52%. This is due to the impact of digital screens on our cardiovascular health and our weight. These are just a couple of examples; studies are continually showing the dangers of increased screen time, which is primarily problematic given that the amount of time we spend interacting with screens is growing, as you will see below.
In addition to the effects that screens have on our eyes and our overall health, screen time can also be very harmful to children, particularly on their academic success, as you will see below. Pediatrics have even announced that children should only interact with screens in the context of video chats with family until they are 18 months old. Toddlers should interact with screens on an educational basis only. In the meantime, explore the effects of screen time in more detail below and learn how you can mitigate these effects.
South Texas Eye Institute is passionate about eye care, which is why it makes it impossible for us to ignore the emerging and continuous research on the effects of screens not only on our eyes but also for our health. The infographic below will help you explore this in more detail.