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Is your computer making you blind?

Eye Strain on Computers

“With the advent of cellphones, tablets and laptops, we’re seeing people in their 20s and 30s with eye issues that used to be exclusive to people in their 60s and 70s,”

Recent college grad T.J. Peterson was thrilled when he scored a gig managing the social media accounts for Oz Moving & Storage last June. He was ready and willing to pay his dues by being on call at all hours.

What he didn’t expect? Muscle twitches and eyestrain that worsen as the workday continues.

“My eyes have definitely gotten way worse in the past year,” says the 22-year-old East Village resident. “When I’m not working, I’m streaming sports on my laptop or checking social media for political news. My whole life is surrounded by screens.”

Peterson isn’t alone. A 2016 study from optical trade association the Vision Council found that 60 percent of people use digital devices for five or more hours a day — up from just more than one-third of Americans in 2012. The same study found that 65 percent of people experience vision problems including dry eyes, irritation or blurred vision after spending time in front of digital devices.

And according to eye doctors, the more time logged in front of screens, the worse the symptoms get: Lock eyes with any overachiever and you’ll likely notice an involuntary twitch, known as an “accommodative spasm.”

Even more alarming: You might be prematurely aging your eyes. “With the advent of cellphones, tablets and laptops, we’re seeing people in their 20s and 30s with eye issues that used to be exclusive to people in their 60s and 70s,” says Dr. Richard Norden of Ridgewood, NJ-based Norden Laser Eye Associates. “Screen time is absolutely the culprit.”

While eye-twitching and headaches can be reversed by taking a digital break, Norden has noticed his patients’ prescriptions can permanently worsen depending on how much time they spend with their devices.

“It used to be an old wives’ tale that staring too long at something, like a page while reading, would make you nearsighted,” he says. “But now that isn’t the case.”

The reason? Overuse of the ciliary muscle, an eye muscle that changes shape depending on whether you look at something up close or far away. “Lock” the muscle in one position for too long — what happens when you stare at a screen or read an old-fashioned book for hours — and it suffers.

Compounding the issue is that all screens emit “blue light.” Different from the “white light” emitted by the sun, blue light contributes to digital eyestrain if looked at for too long, says Gary Morgan, optometrist for vision-insurance company VSP Global. The closer the device is to your eyes, the worse its impact.

App developer Matt Powell logged 14-hour days in front of his tablet, mobile and laptop — and began to notice scary symptoms.

“After I spent a few hours working, I’d notice that it took a longer time for my eyes to adjust to the outside world,” says the Hell’s Kitchen resident. “Natural light would hurt, and I would feel dizzy.”

But the 30-year-old developed a DIY strategy that worked. “Dimming the screen helped a lot,” he says. “So did making sure [that I minimize] time spent on websites with a white background.”

Still, Norden says the best thing workers can do is follow the 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes spent staring at one thing, take 20 seconds and look at an object 20 feet away. “It relaxes the ciliary muscle and reduces the chance of the muscle spasming,” he says.

For some device junkies, eye issues are straight-up agonizing. Screen time can trigger retinal (or ocular) migraines, which can include periods of vision loss.

“When I was planning my wedding and working full-time as a copywriter, I was constantly on a device,” recalls Jenny Studenroth, a 30-year-old freelance writer. “All of a sudden, one day I had a blinding headache. I literally couldn’t see, and had to have a co-worker escort me to the emergency room.”

The Jersey City, NJ, resident now schedules screen-free breaks between assignments.

Retinal migraines are rare, but experts stress that even those who don’t experience any symptoms from their screens are vulnerable to their effects — so log off and look up.

By Anna Davies of the New York Post