The digital age and amount of time we spend in front of our electronic devices makes our lives more convenient. Most of us spend even more time in front of the computer than we ever did before, as we are more likely to work from home. These behaviors have brought other health concerns to our attention, and eye doctors have started to see an uptick in the number of complaints associated with digital eye strain.
It has long been accepted in the medical community that spending excessive time in front of our digital devices can be unhealthy for our eyes. The increased time spent there, whether it be for work or play, has proven the need for new behaviors for everyone in order to prevent the feeling of burning eyes from working on a computer.
What Is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain is also known as computer vision syndrome or computer eye strain. It is a group of symptoms that are the direct result of extensive use of our computers, smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Computer vision syndrome is usually not serious, and there are no signs that it will permanently damage your eyes.
If you are like most people, you are spending an average of seven hours per day in front of your digital devices with a majority of this time spent on detail-oriented tasks. The LED-illuminated screens provide us with endless sources of blue light. Since the only natural source of blue light is sunlight, our brains associate blue light with the times that we should be awake. Our extended periods of wakefulness affect our normal sleep patterns, making it almost impossible to find restful sleep. Computer eye strain is usually the result of a combination of factors that include:
- Not blinking as frequently as you should
- Background lighting that is either inadequate or harsh
- Spending excessive time in front of a computer screen
- Glare from your computer monitor or other digital devices
- Subjecting yourself to an excess of blue light
- Poor posture when sitting in front of your computer screen
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
There are a number of symptoms that you might be experiencing due to digital eye strain, including:
- Dry, itchy, or irritated eyes
- Excessive watering
- General discomfort
- Blurry or double vision
- Trouble concentrating
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty refocusing
- Soreness in your neck, back, or shoulders
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open
How to Relieve and Avoid Digital Eye Strain
If you want to avoid digital eye strain, you need to be conscious of the time you’re spending on electronic devices. Other factors include the distance between your body and your computer screen, how you have your work area set up, your posture when sitting at your computer, and the lighting of your workspace.
If you are looking for ways to decrease your computer eye strain, you can make the following changes to your workspace and screen time. The changes we’ll share below will soon become second nature, meaning relief is in your future.
#1. Your Computer Workspace
Your computer screen should not be more than an arms-length, or 20 to 28 inches, from your face. The center of the screen itself should be positioned approximately 15 to 20 degrees (4 to 5 inches) below eye level. You can also adjust your font size for a more comfortable experience. You should not have to squint to read what is on the screen.
#2. Adjust the Contrast
When you have greater contrast on your screen, it is easier to read the words and clearly see the images on the screen. This is especially true for older computer users who benefit from the light from the computer going through a yellow filter. Sometimes, simply adjusting the contrast can lessen that feeling of burning eyes from working on a computer.
#3. Upgrade Your Monitor
As computers get older, the screen can begin to get dull. A newer computer monitor can bring the change you need to lessen computer eye strain. This is especially true if you are constantly working on a laptop. The most comfortable pixel resolution is at least 1920 x 1080. Higher pixel resolution means sharper images on the computer screen, which is easier for your eyes in general.
#4. Decrease Glare and Improve Lighting
You can reduce computer eye strain by decreasing the glare by either using a matte screen filter or by adjusting the settings to lower the levels of blue light on your screen. The lighting of your work area should neither be too soft nor too intensive. The light coming from your device should not be greater than the lighting coming from your surroundings. Your age should be considered in the lighting decision as those who are younger require less light than those who are over the age of 50, who may require twice the amount of light of younger users.
#5. Taking Breaks
One simple way to get some relief from computer vision syndrome is to force yourself to take more regular breaks from your computer screen. You should take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours that you are spending on your computer or device. During your break, you should try to physically walk away from your computer. The rest of the time, you should learn to practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes you should look at an object 20 feet away for at least twenty seconds.
#6. Remember to Blink
When people are working on an electronic device, they tend to become so focused on what they are doing that they can forget to blink. Under normal circumstances, humans blink at least 12 times per minute, which keeps the eyes naturally lubricated. Make sure you blink frequently, and if necessary, you can use artificial tears to refresh your eyes and put an end to the feeling of burning eyes from working on a computer. If you notice that your vision changes slightly when you consciously blink, that means that you are definitely not blinking frequently enough when you work.
#7. Eye Focus Exercises
Sometimes, eye exercises that make you focus on objects other than your computer screen can help with the symptoms of computer eye strain. If you take a few minutes every few hours and consciously take the time to focus on something that is farther away and then change your focus to something closer, it can decrease your eye strain beyond the 20-20-20 practice. Another exercise is known as the figure eight. For this eye exercise, you look at an area of the floor approximately eight feet away from you. Once you find that spot, you simply move your eyes in a figure eight for thirty seconds, first in one direction and then in the other direction.
#8. Glasses and Contacts
Your glasses and contact lenses can play a role in your computer vision syndrome symptoms. If you normally wear contact lenses, try wearing your glasses when you are working at your computer. An anti-reflective coating can reduce reflections and increase comfort. If you need to, you can consult with your eye doctor about getting a separate pair of glasses for when you are working at your computer for an extended period of time. You should make sure that you get yearly eye exams to ensure that you are not straining your eyes by wearing the wrong prescription strength glasses.
Discover Digital Eye Strain Relief Today
Individuals of every age are exposed to electronic devices, meaning you can experience symptoms related to digital eye strain at any time. Here at Art of Optiks, we are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones live life comfortably with quality vision. If you suspect you or a loved one might be experiencing vision issues due to digital eye strain, our experienced care team is here to help. We can assess current symptoms, suggest simple lifestyle changes, and provide prescriptions for corrective eyewear as needed. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.