If like us, you’ve ever had someone wagging their finger at you as you watch television or work on your computer late at night with only the light of the screen to go by, telling you that it’s ‘bad for your eyes to be doing that’, you’ve probably also wondered, a) is it really?, and b) if so, how so?
Well the short answer to a) is no, well not really anyway. Essentially when you’re intensely focussed on something in total darkness, with only a small amount of light to go by, this causes your pupils to dilate, allowing as much light in as possible. At the same time the muscles that relax to allow this dilation also have to contract to allow your eye to focus on the details, or words that you’re looking at on screen. As you can imagine, this all leads to quite a work out for your eye muscles, which goes some way towards explaining why they can ache so much! Other side effects can include, head, back and neck ache, as well as dry eyes from keeping your eyelids open, and droopy eyelids from not giving them a rest!
Doctors generally agree that there are no long term dangers associated with experiencing eyestrain, besides discomfort at the time which wears off soon afterwards. However there is some evidence to suggest that persistent eyestrain can cause near sightedness, so this may be worth considering if you engage in late night screen viewing. Either way, aches and strains aren’t pleasant, so it might be best to avoid this kind of activity if you can.
Alternatively of course, it may be well worth considering brightening up the area you work in just enough to ensure that your eyes aren’t focussing on one single light source. Check out our desk lamps section if you work at a desk, or a table lamp if you’re watching TV in the lounge.