How many hours each day do you spend staring at a screen of some sort? One? Three? Five? More? EYEcenter wants you to know what this could mean for your vision.
According to the American Optometric Association, the average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer alone, either in the office or working from home. This coupled with the additional time Americans spend on a smartphone, tablet and/or television equals LOTS of screen time and the uptick in what we know as digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged digital device use. The most common symptoms associated with digital eye strain are headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck/shoulder pain. These symptoms may be caused by poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, or a combination of these factors.
In addition to the strain, today’s digital devices and computer monitors also pose another problem for our eyes: they emit blue light. Exposure to this high-energy light can contribute to digital eye strain in as little as two hours of exposure. Here’s why: Since blue light scatters more easily than other visible light, it is not as easily focused on. So once that blue light enters your eyes, they continually strain to focus and keep up with the blue light. This unfocused visual “noise” can contribute to digital eye strain.
Here are some tips to help reduce digital eye strain:
Talk to your eye doctor. Any underlying visual or eye problem will exaggerate digital eye strain. An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family (especially children) to discover these problems. Ask us about the best lens options to help you or your children reduce eye strain. Even if you don’t wear corrective lenses, there are blue light coatings that can be applied to non-prescription eyewear.
- Talk to your eye doctor. Any underlying visual or eye problem will exaggerate digital eye strain. An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family (especially children) to discover these problems. Ask us about the best lens options to help you or your children reduce eye strain. Even if you don’t wear corrective lenses, there are blue light coatings that can be applied to non-prescription eyewear.
- Observe the 20-20-20 rule. Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. Also, blinking more often helps to moisten your eyes, which may help reduce visual discomfort.
- Be sure to blink. Blinking decreases to ⅓ of the normal rate when looking at a digital screen. Intentionally blink–this will keep your tear film from evaporating too rapidly and leaving you with dry, irritated eyes.
- Check your digital distance. Make sure the device you’re using is at an optimal distance for your best viewing (approximately 24” from the eyes). This is especially important for children since their shorter arms put them closer to screens when holding devices– intensity of blue light increases the closer your eyes are to the source. If using a phone or tablet, use the landscape mode for larger font size and easier viewing.
- Use proper lighting. Turn down the brightness on your screens to reduce the amount of blue light exposure, especially during the evening hours. Don’t use your device’s automatic settings for brightness–Adjust them so your screen is at the same light level as your surroundings.
- Reduce glare. Adjust your room light as well, so you are not sitting in the dark or an overly bright room. Soft light that comes from the side is best. Close blinds and position yourself so room lighting isn’t reflected on your screen. Use an anti-glare coating on devices when possible.
Schedule an appointment today and ask us about the ways we can help protect your eyes from potential damage from digital devices.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.