Technology can be a beautiful thing but it might also be ruining your eyes! Laptops, computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones – this proliferation of digital screens has given rise to what is termed “digital eye strain.” Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a repetitive movement injury that occurs with overexposure to digital screens when the eye follows the same pattern again and again.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Two hours of digital screen time is all it takes for digital eye strain to set in. With over eighty percent of Americans reporting they use some sort of digital device for more than two hours a day and over fifty percent reporting they use more than one digital device at a time, digital eye strain has become a very real threat to eye health.
Symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, red, dry eyes, tension in the neck and shoulders, and blurred vision. Digital eye strain happens when the eye is forced to focus and re-focus when looking at a computer screen at work, for instance. If you have to do a lot of reading on a computer screen or switch from hardcopies to a screen, the eye muscles are constantly adapting to those changes, not to mention adjusting to any glare or flickering that may also be occurring. That’s a lot of work for the eye muscles, which deteriorate and lose their elasticity with age.
Remedies for Digital Eye Strain
There are a number of things you can do to alleviate or prevent digital eye strain. If you wear glasses, be sure to keep your prescription up to date. Proper lighting is also essential to preventing digital eye strain. Make sure any lighting in the room, especially overhead lighting, is no brighter than the screen you’re viewing.
If a computer screen is the culprit, swap out old, low-resolution monitors for LCD, flat panel displays. Additionally, utilize blue screen settings on your phone or tablet, which not only reduce digital eye strain but help prevent sleep issues associated with too much screen time. An anti-glare screen is another option, as is a computer hood.
Good posture is also of vital importance. Try to remain sitting upright. Avoid rounding the shoulders and leaning in by positioning your mouse closer to you and making sure your chair has proper back support so you can maintain a decent viewing distance from your screen without any sort of discomfort.
If you wear contact lenses, progressive lenses or bifocals, ask your eye doctor about computer glasses, which are highly individualized glasses that take into account the distance you sit from the computer and place the optical center of the lenses perfectly in line with your pupils. They also feature magnifying power at a slightly lower percentage than that of reading glasses to reduce strain.
Last but not least, practice self-care. Blink, take frequent breaks, and exercise the eyes by looking at something at a distance for ten to twenty seconds, looking at something close-up for ten to twenty seconds, and then looking at something at a distance again for another ten to twenty seconds. Looking at objects far away give the eye muscles an opportunity to relax.