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Boxset binge eye-lert

BRITS binge watching their favourite TV shows on streaming services risk damaging their eyes, warn health experts.

Our experts have warned that watching your favourite TV programme for hours on end could come at a price. Watching television for a prolonged amount of time at the weekend and on evenings can cause a variety of problems, including eye strain and dry eye.

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express

Asthenopia is a common problem that can arise after a duration of intense focus, also known as eye strain. This can manifest itself through symptoms including fatigue, pain in or around the eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, headaches and double vision. Eye strain can also lead to difficulty focusing on the screen.

When watching television, the eye does not produce enough moisture to protect the outer window of the eye (the cornea) and remain comfortable, resulting in dry eye. Although watching television can’t be counted as the main cause of dry eye, it can aggravate the condition. Focusing on a screen results in the eyes blinking less often, causing the eye to dry out.

If you are planning on watching your favourite boxset in one sitting, it’s important to do so in the right environment, as you are essentially focusing on thousands of pixels of light at once. Watching television in the dark means that it is the only light source in the room therefore your eyes are forced to adjust to different levels of lighting, which can make the pupils dilate more than necessary.

On average, we blink between 15 and 20 times per minute, but when focusing on a screen this is typically reduced to just 5 – 7 times per minute.

If you continue to heavily overwork eyes, it can lead to a subconjunctival haemorrhage, which is the bursting of blood vessels on the white section of your eye. If you notice that you’re having trouble focusing on the screen, book an eye examination at your nearest opportunity.

Tips for Overcoming Dry Eyes and Fatigue

There are some simple measures which you can take to combat eye strain and dry eye, such as simply taking regular breaks from intense focus – pause in between each episode or even put the kettle on. By doing so, it will relax the muscle inside the eye and help with ocular fatigue.

Remember to blink and use moisturising eye drops if you are focusing on a screen for long periods of times. Overly bright or dim lighting can also cause eye strain, so always ensure there is sufficient lighting when watching the television. If you have been advised, wear corrective eyewear, as avoiding this can lead to worsened eyesight in the future.

We advise to limit the eyes exposure to screen time and adhere to the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes, take a twenty-second break and focus on an object at least twenty-feet away. It takes twenty-seconds for the eye to completely relax and during this resting period, stay hydrated to keep your eyes moist and healthy.

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