Technology is great for improving some things in our lives, but in other ways, it’s harming our health. Specifically, it’s harming our hearing and vision. But there are certain things we can look out for, and things we can do to improve the problems.
Out on the trail in Elmwood Park, Jamie Rees likes to enjoy a little music with her run. But when putting on her over the ear buds, Jamie makes sure the noise doesn't overpower the run.
"I think I'm usually listening to them just right just because I don't like to not hear people around me," says Rees.
Which is the right level to ensure your hearing can pass the test. "Certain levels of sound can cause permanent damage to hearing. It damages the sensory cells that are in the inner ear," says Jeff Simmons, an audiologist with Boystown National Research Hospital.
And a new study out says one in five teens are not passing the hearing test due to technology like ear buds. "When someone is wearing an ear bud, all that sound output is being channeled right down into the ear canal,” explains Simmons. "So if you want to listen to it at a louder level, that's OK, but try to limit the amount of time or take breaks in between the times you do listen to it at those louder levels."
Technology is hurting our eyes too, causing more vision problems.
Dr. Teri Geist, an optometrist with Midwest Eye Care, says, "I'm seeing them increase tremendously, and I'm seeing them increase at younger ages - the kids, the teenagers, the texting - and I'm just amazed at how many young kids are on the computer for a tremendous amount of hours."
Dr. Geist says desk computers, texting and laptops are not near sighted or far sighted but intermediate distance. "A long time ago we didn't have all those near tasks, and now we're doing all those near tasks, and it's creating some issues with eye strain and discomfort to the eyes."
Technology is improving our communication and work flow, but at a price of our health.
Technology can lead to eye strain, headaches, fatigue and dry eye syndrome. Dr. Geist says it's best to see your eye care professional to work out the best solution because it's different from case to case.
As for the hearing issues, here are some good standards. If someone can hear the music from your ear buds when they're standing near you, your music is loud enough to cause damage. Also, if someone is standing near you and you can't hear them talking to you, turn your music down.