In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid screens. Today, we spend more time in front of smartphones, tablets, and laptops daily compared to before.
While technology has its perks and can make our lives easier, prolonged exposure to screen time can lead to digital eye strain, redness, dry eyes, headaches, and visual discomfort. If these symptoms are concerning or affect your quality of vision, visit your eye doctor for an eye exam.
Fortunately, you can reduce eye strain by taking regular breaks, adjusting your workspace and screen settings, using artificial tears, and ensuring your eyeglass prescription is up to date.
Eye Strain & Digital Devices
Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome results from prolonged use of digital devices. When using digital devices, your eyes need to move and focus a lot, which can put additional demand on the eyes, causing both ocular and nonocular symptoms.
In addition to the screen time itself, other factors can lead to eye strain, including:
- Sitting too close to the screen
- Spending more than 4 consecutive hours using a screen
- Using improper posture
- Using inadequate lighting
Ocular symptoms of digital eye strain can include the following:
- Tired eyes
- Dry eyes
- Burning sensation
- Foreign body sensation
- Watery eyes
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
Nonocular symptoms of digital eye strain can include the following:
- Stiff neck
- General fatigue
How to Reduce Eye Strain
While you can’t entirely avoid screen time due to work or school, there are ways to reduce eye strain and prioritize your eye comfort when using digital devices.
The 20–20–20 Rule
The 20–20–20 rule is a simple practice that can reduce or help prevent eye strain by giving your eyes a much-needed break from the intense focus on your screen. The rule is every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. It’s a small commitment that can significantly benefit your vision health.
Adjust Your Display Settings
Your screen settings play a pivotal role in eye comfort. A screen that’s too bright or too dim can contribute to eye strain.
You can adjust the brightness and contrast levels to make it easier on your eyes. Additionally, consider using features on your devices to reduce blue light and glare.
Good lighting is the unsung hero in the battle against eye strain. Ensure your workspace is well-lit, preferably with natural light, and that the light on your screen matches the surrounding light.
Position your screen to reduce glare and use indirect lighting to minimize harsh contrasts. Soft, warm light is your friend; it creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere, making those long work or gaming sessions more eye-friendly.
Adjust Your Workspace
Your workspace ergonomics can significantly impact eye strain. Ensure your screen is at eye or slightly below eye level by adjusting your chair or desk, reducing the strain on your neck and eyes.
Place your screen an arm’s length from your eyes to avoid being too close. You can also ensure your screen is free of dirt, dust, and fingerprints, as they can affect your focus and contribute to eye strain.
Blink, Blink, Blink
In the hustle of our digital lives, we often forget the most natural eye movement—blinking. Staring at screens reduces our blink rate from 14–16 times a minute to 4–6 times a minute, leading to dry and irritated eyes.
Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently to produce more tears. Tears help keep your eyes moist and comfortable.
Use Artificial Tears
If you experience dry eyes or have chronic dry eye disease, consider using artificial tears to keep your eye hydrated. Speak to your eye doctor about which over-the-counter lubricating eye drops to use.
While using screens is sometimes non-negotiable, you can take breaks from them. Step away from your desk, stretch your legs, and let your eyes wander and reset.
Blue Light Glasses
The prevalence of screens in our lives exposes us to a significant amount of blue light, which can contribute to eye strain and disrupt sleep patterns. Consider investing in blue light glasses to help filter the amount of blue light you’re exposed to. Speak to your eye doctor about blue light glasses and how they can benefit you.
The Right Prescription Glasses
You may be more susceptible to eye strain from prolonged digital screen use if you have an uncorrected or under-corrected refractive error. Book an eye exam with your eye doctor to determine the correct prescription eyewear. You can also consider glasses with anti-reflective coating.
Eye Exams for Vision Comfort
Digital eye strain is an uncomfortable and prevalent problem often related to excessive screen usage. Taking small protective measures is vital for maintaining good eye health, such as taking frequent breaks, blinking more often, reducing glare, and adjusting screen brightness.
If eye strain and other symptoms persist despite your efforts, book an appointment with Eye Rx. Our eye doctor can check your prescription, look for any underlying causes, and provide treatment for eye strain relief and vision comfort.