In honor of World Sight Day, I want to repost this article about Digital Eye Strain! Additionally, check here to join the World Sight Day Challenge!
Modern digital living means we spend large amounts of time in front of screens. Increasingly, our work and play revolve around electronics. 90% of Americans use digital devices for at least two hours each day with 30% spending more than 9 hours on these devices.¹ Digital devices make our lives easier, but our eyes weren’t designed to spend countless hours between computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Many of my patients with computer-oriented jobs do not realize they suffer from symptoms related to extended screen time. These symptoms collectively are known as Computer Vision Syndrome or, more recently, Digital Eye Strain. While those who work in front of a computer are more susceptible, any extended digital device use can increase your risk.
65% of Americans experience Digital Eye Strain with common symptoms including eye strain, headache, light sensitivity, blurred vision, dry eyes, or neck/shoulder/back pain.¹ These symptoms can adversely affect your quality of life and cause unnecessary suffering. Read below to learn 5 ways to find relief from Digital Eye Strain.
1. Take Frequent Breaks
The American Academy of Opthalmology recommends the 20-20-20 rule: “every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds”². Taking frequent breaks and shifting your focus to a distance target allows your eye muscles to relax.
2. Use Computer Eyewear
Many spend the majority of their workday using a computer screen. New lens technologies exist in both glasses and contact lenses to protect your eyes and relieve Digital Eye Strain symptoms. Eyewear optimized for computer use can alleviate eye strain, decrease glare from screens, and protect your eyes from harmful blue light.¹
3. Keep Your Eyes Lubricated
Our blink rate is decreased when looking at a computer or digital device screen. As we blink less, the front surface of the eye becomes dry and this dryness can be worse with contact lens wear. Make sure you remember to blink frequently or use over-the-counter artificial tears to keep dry eyes lubricated throughout the work day.
I recommend my patients take a few moments to give their eyes a complete break at the end of the day when Digital Eye Strain symptoms are the worst. Closing the eyes before leaving work or once you arrive home provides a zen moment while also relaxing your eye muscles. You can make this time a short meditation or just simply rest and take a few moments to breathe. An evening screen detox is good for both the eyes and the mind.
5. Create a Plan with Your Doctor
Being evaluated by an eye doctor ensures you find the appropriate Digital Eye Strain treatment for you. Vision demands vary so each patient requires a plan individualized to their needs. In addition to aforementioned solutions, you may need to adjust your office ergonomics, enlarge text size, or even change your digital device usage patterns.
Regardless of your symptomology, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Schedule a visit with your eye care provider to be evaluated for Digital Eye Strain and discuss the treatment options available to you!
1.The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma; 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report. 2016.
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Computers, Digital Devices, and Eye Strain. 01 March 2016.