Reading from a screen or a book can cause irritation and strain to your eyes, however, this can be avoided by following a few simple eye care steps.

Before you reach for that prized novel, flick through the latest edition of your favorite magazine or settle down with a tablet device, take a moment to consider what you can do to care for your eyes.

These days, books come in all shapes and sizes – from dusty old books to the latest downloads that fill up our electronic gadgets. However, contrary to common belief, prolonged reading of any kind – be it the well-worn pages of a paperback or skimming through an electronic device – can cause discomfort to the eyes.

SEE ALSO: 5 Best Foods for Managing Diabetes

Eye Care While Reading

Dr. Sandra Fiorentini, Specialist Ophthalmologist, Cornea, and External Eye Diseases and Refractive Surgery Specialist (Laser Eye Surgery), at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, recommends a few simple eye care steps to help take the strain out of reading.

They include:

  • If you have glasses prescribed for distance, make sure to have them close by and wear them when reading
  • For every 20 minutes spent focused on a screen or book at a short distance, look away at something 20 feet or so away for 20 seconds
  • Use lubricating drops prescribed by an ophthalmologist when reading for long periods

Reading from a screen does not make the eyes work harder because the concept of ‘working harder’ is not applicable when it comes to vision and eye care.

– Dr. Sandra Fiorentini – Specialist Ophthalmologist, Cornea, and External Eye Diseases and Refractive Surgery Specialist

“If the eyes and the whole pathway of vision are healthy, one can do all activities with no harm at all. The eyes do not get tired or overused as with any other organ in the body.

SEE ALSO: Dieting Tips for Weight Loss

“Issues arise when we are too concentrated on reading, including from a screen, and we don’t blink adequately, which brings about the symptoms of irritated and dry eyes.”

Digital Eye strain

Remembering to refocus your vision on an object in the distance every 20 minutes or so is also a useful way to prevent irritation to the eyes and avoid what has come to be commonly known as ‘Digital Eye Strain’, adds Dr. Fiorentini.

Eye Care: Tips on How to Take Care of Your Vision
Dr. Sandra Fiorentini – Specialist Ophthalmologist

A 2013 study involving 795 people suggested that those who periodically refocused on distant objects while using a computer had fewer symptoms of eye strain, dry eyes, and blurred vision.

“Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods of time,” said Dr. Fiorentini. “The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use, and that’s why eye care is necessary. However, so far no scientific study has proved a direct causative association between screen use and eye damage, so further studies are needed to understand better this association.”