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YOUR HEALTH: Why you might want to take a break from this computer screen

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – Our electronic addiction to phones,  I-pads and computers may be leading us down a road to blindness.

As Millennials do, Courtney Soltis can barely let an hour pass without checking in with her electronic community of friends and work.

"I'm on all devices, tablets, computers, cellphones over eight hours a day."

She started suffering daily headaches and it turned out digital eye strain was the culprit.

"Vision becomes blurry, eyes become fatigued, sometimes red, it's very frequent to start getting headaches," added opthalmologist Dr. Alan Mendelsohn.

Age-related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than ten
million Americans. That is more than cataracts and glaucoma combined.

Dr. Mendelsohn says anyone looking at a screen for more than 30 minutes a day is at risk.

"There's blue light that's emitted from digital devices," he explained.   "That's high energy visible light but it's harmful, and that's what causes the digital eye strain."

And if you don`t block that blue light early on, he says you could be risking macular degeneration down the road.

"You don't really want to be at high risk of going blind after the age of 50," said eye patient Alex Bari.

The doctor told Alex the first thing he can do to lower his risk is to distance himself.

"There`s only one fourth of the exposure holding it two feet versus one foot," said Dr. Mendelsohn.

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES:  To reduce your risk of digital eye strain and macular degeneration, Dr.
Mendelsohn says you can start by simply holding your devices further away from your eyes.  You can decrease your exposure by moving your computer and cell phone screens at least two feet away.  The next step he recommends is to get glasses with blue blocker in them.  The blocker can be built into your prescription glasses or sunglasses.  Blue blocker glasses have yellow chromosome pigment embedded within the lens, which protects the eye from harmful blue light.

"Specifically it's something called yellow chromophore pigment that's embedded in the lens."

It's more expensive but this expert says it's worth it.

"We want to prevent the macular degeneration, it's a preventable thing."

If this story  has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.