In today’s society, it’s commonplace to see people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors, with some kind of digital device in their hand. These technological conveniences come with a price tag on your health, however. Change to: “Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that come from the prolonged use of computers, tablets, e-readers, and cell phones. Eye discomfort and vision problems may be experienced when viewing digital screens for extended periods of time, with the level of discomfort appearing to be directly related to the amount of screen use.
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
Some symptoms of Digital Eye Strain include include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and, of course, eye strain. These symptoms may be caused by a variety of reasons, such as poor lighting, glare, poor seating and posture, improper distance for viewing, uncorrected vision problems, or some combination of these reasons.
Reducing Digital Eye Strain
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or avoid Digital Eye Strain.
- Special eyewear (computer glasses) is available with lenses that have digital eye strain-reducing capabilities.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes of working (and looking at a computer screen), take 20 seconds to look away at something that is 20 feet away.
- Use proper lighting to eliminate screen glare. This can be done by closing drapes, shades, or blinds to eliminate or reduce exterior light and using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or lower-intensity bulbs and tubes. Installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor may also help.
- Position yourself at a proper viewing distance when at a computer; it’s recommended that this distance is an arm’s length.
- Increase text sizes to better define the content and reduce eye strain.
- Take frequent breaks. A study found that taking four five-minute “mini-breaks” in addition to the usual two 15-minute work breaks significantly reduced discomfort and eye strain in workers (and did not affect productivity). During these breaks, stand up, move around, and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck, and shoulders to reduce tension and fatigue.
- Get regular eye exams. Yearly eye exams are important to maintain eye health.