What To Do When Suffering Digital Eye Strain
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What is digital eye strain?
Digital Eye Strain (or Computer Vision Syndrome) is the collection of physical discomfort after screen use for longer than two hours at a time. It is caused by the constant movement of your eyes on the same path over and over.
When you work at a computer, your eyes react to changing images on the screen all the time so it requires a lot of effort from your eye muscles. The longer you stay on screen, the worse it gets because the human eyes weren’t designed to spend that much time looking up close.
With an increase in digital technology, many individuals suffer from this collection of symptoms such as dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and headaches, from gazing at a digital screen. You are also potentially at risk if you are reading this on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
The downside of technology consumption
Using two or more devices simultaneously with prolonged period of screen use will worsen the symptoms. With the rise of the “second screen”, activities like binge-watch a show on a laptop while browsing social media on a smartphone are linked to the increased risk of digital eye strain.
Other factors such as the distance from the screen, the frequency and duration of use, and the degree of exposure to blue light emitted by video screens should be considered to avoid exacerbating the symptoms.
How to avoid digital eye strain?
A few changes to how you use your devices can protect your eye health:
- Limiting screen time as much as possible is the most obvious solution. Try to participate in activities that don’t involve a screen. Just put down your phone a bit and some of these issues can be avoided.
- However, if the current working lifestyle does not allow you to cut down on time screen, another way is to buy a pair of specially designed eyeglasses referred to as “computer glasses”, a new lens technology that custom-engineered to protect eyes from blue light, glare, and other environmental stressors. These lenses can be purchased with or without a prescription here
- Using the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes that you’re working up close, take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet further away. This will break the movement path of your eyes on screen and allow them to refresh.
- Last but not least, adults and children should have regular eye exams to monitor vision and detect potential eye problems. During the eye exam, you should discuss your digital device consumption habits with your ophthalmologist to work out the best solutions to your lifestyle.
The following tips can also be applied to alleviate the risk of digital eye strain:
- Position the screen about 25 inches from your eyes and 20 degree below your eye level
- Reduce glare from the screen by lighting the area properly and consider using a protective-glare screen cover.
- Remember to blink to reduce dry eyes. You can post a note on the computer as a reminder.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry. You should consult your eye doctor which drop is best for your condition.
- Your screen colour and contrast tones should be adjusted to suit your eyes. Lower the color temperature of your screen to decrease the emitted blue light, which helps to reduce eyestrain.
- The screen brightness should always match your surroundings.
When should I book an eye exam
Whenever experiencing symptoms like headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes, eye pain or excessive twitching, you should visit your ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye examination. You can also make an online booking with an optometrist here.
During the eye exam, to help improve your digital experience, your doctor will need to discuss with you the following:
- The duration and frequency of computer use
- The distance from your eyes to your screen
- The overall set-up of your workstation, your main work tasks and if you have multiple screens
- The type and location of lighting in your computer area
This will help your ophthalmologist discovers if you suffer from digital eye strain, or if your ocular discomfort is the result of a more serious vision or health problem.
You should ask for anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses to eliminate visual distractions to the eye. This can prevent unnecessary exhaustion from reflections and glare from bright and flickering light sources such as fluorescent lights.
You can also ask for lenses designed with focusing power that helps you hold focus on your digital screens and minimizes eye muscle fatigue. It does that by pre-focusing the light and simulating distant viewing to reduce the amount of focusing effort that the eyes must exert.