What is Digital Eye Strain & How To Prevent It

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Today, people are using their digital devices for just about everything. While computers, tablets, televisions, and mobile phones have become such a big part of everyday lives, prolonged use has been linked to digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome which can make it difficult to read up close, as well as cause headaches and neck pain. Learn more about this vision-related problem, its symptoms and how we can help correct the issue.

What Causes Digital Eye Strain?

The main cause of Digital eye strain is prolonged screen time. However, there are other determining factors brought on by screen time, that play a part in digital eye strain too, like:

  • Blinking less, which decreases moisture, and dries out your eyes.
  • Screens with glares or reflections can cause you to squint even harder to read.
  • Using devices with poor contrast between text and background.
  • Using screens at maximum brightness, especially in dark rooms.
  • Reading small texts for extended periods of time.
  • Working at an uncomfortable distance or angle, straining the neck and back muscles.
  • Viewing screens without the help of prescription glasses or protective eyewear.

Why and How Do Digital Screens Strain Your Eyes?

You may be wondering, what is it about screens that affect your eyes? Well, your eyes are an organ made up of 6 different muscles, and like any other muscle, when used in excess without a chance to relax, it can become strained. However, there are multiple reasons why screens, more specifically, are a major factor in eye strain.

  • Computer Pixelations: All screens are made up of tiny pixelations, which means our eyes must work even harder to keep the pixelated images in focus, even if those images are at high resolutions.
  • Blue Light Emissions: Blue light is a high energy, short wavelength component of the vision spectrum. As the blue light waves disperse from the screen, they scatter throughout your eyes, increasing the difficulty for your retina to focus. All that extra work on your eyes causes inevitable strain.
  • Close-Proximity: Screens require up-close reading, which forces you to squint, and therefore strain, to maintain focus.
  • Lack of Contrast: Unlike reading something on paper, texts on screens are not sharply defined and the contrast of the letters to the background is significantly reduced, causing you to subconsciously strain to read.
  • Poor Viewing Angles: The viewing angles, or posture, in which you read or write, is different than the angles required for computers, phones, or television, which requires more work to focus and move, than your eyes were made to take on.

Digital Eye Strain Symptoms

  • Eye fatigue
  • Dry or red eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye twitching
  • Watery or tearing eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to lights
  • Neck and shoulder pain

How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Screen time may be almost inevitable, but don't wait for symptoms to appear, when you can help prevent them ahead of time. One way to be proactive and prevent digital eye strain is to slowly decrease screen time before bed, or on the weekends, if possible. Also, be sure to continue your annual eye exams to help spot vision problems early on.

Read the treatment tips below and try to incorporate them into your everyday routine, so you can keep your eyes working their best, rather than working through stress.

How to Help Treat Digital Eye Strain

Sometimes cutting your screen time isn’t an option. If your job requires you to work in front of a computer or if avoiding a digital screen seems impossible, there are a few adjustments you can make to help prevent digital eye strain, such as:

  • Change Your Position: Your face should be about arm's length from your digital screen and slightly below eye level to help prevent straining of the neck, back and eyes.
  • Adjust the Lighting: Use a matte screen filter to reduce the glare and computer glasses with blue light filtering lenses. Working in a well-lit room can also help reduce eye strain.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes give your eyes a break from staring at a screen by looking at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more.
  • Use a Humidifier: To alleviate dryness caused from computer eye strain, use a humidifier to bring moisture into the room.
  • Wear Computer Glasses: Wearing the proper glasses for eye strain can help reduce eye fatigue and correct blurry vision. If you're suffering from digital eye strain, ask your optician about computer glasses. These are different from your regular prescription or reading glasses because they are made specifically for digital screens and the specific distance at which we view them.
  • Use Blue Light Lenses: All digital screens emit blue light and studies have shown that exposure to it can disrupt your sleep. Purchasing computer glasses with a blue light filter can help reduce related issues.

Scheduling an Eye Exam

If your eyes are feeling heavy or irritated after prolonged screen time, even with help from our at-home treatment tips, it may be time to book an appointment at your local Pearle Vision EyeCare Center. During your visit you can also ask about prescription glasses for digital eye strain as well as any other questions you may have.

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