The American Optometric Association defines Computer Vision Syndrome, also called Digital Eye Strain, as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Unfortunately, this is becoming very common. The downside is that the discomfort that can result from this syndrome can range from mild to severe. But, this condition can be minimized or even prevented with some intention. Here’s some more information about digital eye strain and ways to improve eye health.
Why is excessive screen time bad?
When you view devices, your blinking pattern slows down and your eyes don’t get the moisture they typically would otherwise. This can cause dryness and strain. Additionally, simply staring at a lit screen and focusing on text and images taxes your eyes and may cause fatigue and discomfort. Furthermore, there is strong evidence showing blue light emitted by computer screens and digital devices can add to eye strain and can also affect sleep patterns as blue light disrupts our bodies production of melatonin.
Here are some further digital eye strain symptoms:
- Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Sore neck, shoulders or back
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open
If you have no choice but to be on your computer throughout the day, there are steps you can take to give your eyes some TLC.
Preventing digital strain
One of the best ways to improve eye health is to commit to the 20/20/20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, you take a break and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a rest from focusing on your screen and prevents excessive strain.
Beyond this, consider your working environment. The lighting in your area should be ambient, not harsh. If you’re able to control the lighting, make adjustments in order to tone down severe lighting (whether coming in from windows or coming from indoor lights). Also, check the brightness of your screen. It shouldn’t be too bright or too dark, but instead similar to the brightness of your surroundings so your eyes don’t constantly have to adjust.
Another helpful idea is to get glasses that have anti-reflective coatings, specifically those that filter blue light so you reduce the likelihood of glare from your screen and the impacts of blue light. And lastly? Blink often. It may also help to bring artificial tears with you during the day to keep your eyes moist.
If you are planning to get LASIK surgery, you may want to limit computer use for a day or two.
You can also look to use your technology to help your vision and prevent eye strain. For example, the BeeLine Reader app helps you read more easily and without interruption by using eye-guiding color gradients and the Eye Drop Reminder app helps you manage and track your eye drop usage.
Be aware of the time you spend on screens, and do what you can to give your eyes a break. If you have any concerns about digital strain, please contact us to schedule an eye exam.