Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome, is a condition that often affects people who work or play on laptops, tablets, smartphones, e-readers, and other digital devices. Whether you use a laptop or tablet at work, or your screen time is limited to texting and playing games on your phone or TV in the evenings, you may be at risk for developing the condition.
Digital eye strain causes a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
The condition occurs in both children and adults who view digital screens. Approximately 60 percent of people who use digital devices report digital eye strain symptoms, and this is not just about older patients-children, and teenagers who spend many hours per day on their devices are experiencing these same symptoms.
You may not notice a difference between reading words on a printed page versus a digital screen, but your eyes certainly do. The letters you see on your screen aren't as crisp and sharp as those you read in a book, which forces your eyes to work harder to focus. Glare, a common problem when viewing digital devices, worsens the problem, as does poor contrast.
Your position may also cause or contribute to your symptoms. If you sit too close or far away from the screen, or if you view a digital screen from an odd angle, you may be more likely to experience eyestrain after just a few hours.
Dry eye, a condition that not only causes eye irritation but can decrease the sharpness of your vision, maybe a result of reduced blinking. Blinking keeps your eyes moist, washes away debris, and spreads nutrients across your eye. People who work on screens blink as third as often as usual and may not close their eyes completely while blinking.
Has it been a while since you've had an eye exam? Blurry vision due to nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism can be a contributing factor in digital eye strain.
You'll probably need to take several steps to improve your symptoms, such as:
Getting a New Eyeglass or Contact Lens Prescription: Updating your eyeglass or contact lens prescription will make it easier to see words and images on digital screens.
Wearing Computer Glasses: Computer glasses provide sharp vision at 20 to 28 inches, the typical distance between your eyes and a laptop screen or desktop monitor. The glasses also reduce glare and may also protect your eyes from blue light generated by the screen.
Improving Ergonomics: Positioning your desk and chair for optimal viewing will also help reduce digital eye strain. We recommend looking downward at computer screens and Suggest that your computer screens should be about four to five inches below eye level.
Improving Lighting: Lighting should be bright enough to allow you to see the screen easily without casting too much glare. If overhead light produces too much glare, use a desk lamp instead.
Blinking More Often: You may find that your eye comfort improves if you make an effort to blink periodically when you view digital screens.
Following the 20-20-20 Rule: After viewing a screen for 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Taking Breaks: Although the 20-20-20 rule will decrease digital eye strain, it's no substitute for real breaks. After you spend two or three hours staring at a screen, step away from the device and take a 10- or 15-minute break.
Using Eye Drops: If dry eyes continue to be a problem despite taking these steps, artificial tears or lubricating eye drops may be helpful.
Changing Screen Brightness: Your eyes must work harder to see clearly if your screen is brighter or darker than your surroundings. Change the brightness to ensure that your screen mimics the light level of the room.
Do you have any of the symptoms of digital eye strain? We can help you improve the comfort of your eyes. Contact us to schedule an appointment at 650-259-0300.