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Square-eyed Brits are starting to feel the ill-effects of their technology use – as research reveals the average adult now spends seven hours a day staring at a screen. A shocking 55% admit that they feel their time spent staring at screens is now affecting them, with ‘eye discomfort’ emerging as the most common symptom.
Researchers, who carried out a detailed survey of 2,000 people, found that on average we now first glance at a screen at 7.20am, often before we’ve even got out of bed.
And after a full day at work, followed by an evening interspersed with the occasional internet search and social media update, we cram in one last look right before going to sleep, with the last average screen peek coming at 10.35pm.
In fact, the average Brit admitted they probably have their eyes on screens for 43% of the time – given 9 hours sleep, that means six and a half hours every day spent staring at screens.
And for those affected by their screen time, one in three are left fatigued, with a further one in three suffering with regular headaches and one in six prone to mood changes or stress.
The research was commissioned by the Think About Your Eyes initiative, a campaign to raise awareness of the potential eye hazards of the nation’s addiction to technology.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of ‘blue light’ – exposure to bad “blue-light”, part of the visible light we see, sent out by sunlight as well as most computers, tablets, smart phones and flat-screen TVs, can damage the cells in our eyes.
Think About Your Eyes optician, Andy Hepworth, said:
“Most of us don’t realise that days spent glued to our smart phones and computers, followed by evenings on the laptop or slumped in front of the TV could pose a risk to our eyes.
“Research tells us these types of device all send out a form of potentially harmful blue light which can disrupt sleep, affect our mood and, most importantly, damage the cells in the eyes, increasing the likelihood of future eye disease.
“With our kids increasingly hooked on social media or gaming, we need to think about protecting the whole family – especially with younger generations set to live longer than ever before.”
The study also found four in ten people are never more than a metre from their phone, with the average person checking their phone on 17 different occasions on any given day, rising to a whopping 32 times in the under 25s.
Nearly half of those studied even take their phone with them into the toilet to squeeze in a little more screen time.
Such is the extent of our devotion to the screen that results show the average respondent spends 44% of their waking hours staring at screens.
And the reliance is addictive, with 43% experiencing genuine irritation or anxiousness on occasions where they aren’t able to look at their phone at will.
In fact, nearly half the study described themselves as slightly addicted to their gadgets and this figure increases dramatically the younger a person is – more than two thirds of under 24’s believe they are addicted to their gadgets.
The Think About Your Eyes campaign reveals findings that suggest exposure to bad “blue-light” light, part of the visible light we see, sent out by sunlight as well as most computers, tablets, smart phones and flat-screen TVs, can damage the cells in our eyes.
Andy Hepworth added:
“Although we need good blue light (blue-turquoise) to help regulate our biological clocks, prolonged exposure to bad blue light (blue-violet) could potentially put us at risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
“Technology isn’t the only culprit either. Our whole lighting landscape has changed with energy-saving light bulbs and modern lighting systems, at work, home and school, all radiating potentially harmful blue light that we can’t avoid.
“If you’re worried about your exposure to blue light, a visit to your local independent optician can help put your mind at rest and provide you with advice on how best to protect your eyes for the future.”
Blue-light is present everywhere:
Outdoors: the sun emits blue light all year long, with significant amounts reaching ground level whatever the weather (sunny, cloudy, rainy etc.)
Indoors: Energy-saving light bulbs and most modern (LED) display systems, including computers, tablets, new generation smart phones and flat-screen televisions, emit blue light
Due to EU legislation, there is now a ban on the manufacture or importing of traditional, frosted (incandescent) light bulbs. As a result, energy-saving light bulbs (LED and compact fluorescent) are now commonplace in our homes, offices, schools and public buildings
Not all blue light is the same:
Blue-Turquoise light is essential for protecting the retina against light over-exposure and helps regulate the human biological clock
Exposure to Blue-Violet light can cause damage to retinal cells and potentially increase the risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration