Last updated on February 13th, 2022 at 05:46 pm
Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, refers to a group of eye and vision problems that are caused by prolonged usage of computers and other digital devices. It can cause many ocular symptoms, such as blurry vision, eye redness, and eye dryness.
Because of the massive growth in digital device usage in recent years, nearly 60 million people worldwide are affected by digital eye strain. In 2016, The Vision Council also reported that digital eye strain was more prevalent in people who used two or more digital devices simultaneously, compared with those who used only one digital device at a time.
Even though digital eye strain is a common problem, it can cause significant and frequent discomfort for affected individuals. The good news is that you can relieve and avoid digital eye strain by following these tips:
1. Give your eyes a break.
If you spend most of your time in front of a digital screen, you should give your eyes periodic breaks. The easiest way to do that is by looking away from the screen and focusing your eyes on any object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Do this every 20 minutes. Known as the 20-20-20 rule, this method helps relieve and prevent symptoms of digital eye strain by relaxing your eye muscles.
You should also blink more frequently if you’re using a digital device for long periods of time. Blinking helps spread hydrating substances, such as tears and mucus, across your eyes to keep them moist. However, people tend to blink less frequently while using digital devices. This gives hydrating substances on the eyes more time to evaporate, resulting in red, dry, and itchy eyes.
2. Limit your screen time.
Keeping track of your screen time goes a long way towards preventing digital eye strain. Most smartphones now have screen time functions that allow you to check your daily and weekly screen time and make the necessary adjustments, such as setting usage limits for social media applications.
You can also limit your screen time by refraining from using digital devices before bed. Aside from digital eye strain, stimulation from digital screens at night can mess with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. A good rule of thumb is to put away your digital devices at least an hour before bedtime.
3. Adjust your screen settings.
Another way to prevent digital eye strain is to adjust your digital device’s screen settings. For example, you can increase the text size on your smartphone or computer screen so that you don’t squint and strain your eyes. You can also adjust your screen’s brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you. It should be neither too bright that it looks like a lightbulb nor too dim that you struggle to make out any detail on your screen.
4. Use artificial tears.
Artificial tears, or lubricant eye drops, are specially formulated solutions that contain moisturizing agents. They keep the eyes moist to prevent and relieve symptoms of digital eye strain. Simply apply one or two drops of artificial tears on each eye every few hours.
You can buy artificial tears without a prescription. However, it’s still a good idea to consult an eye care professional (ECP) before buying. That way, the ECP can advise you on how best to use artificial tears.
5. Use the right eyewear for you.
Work with an ECP to determine if you need special eyewear to reduce and prevent digital eye strain. In some cases, eyeglasses and contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be suitable for computer use. Specialized glasses or contact lenses designed to meet the unique visual demands of computer use may be needed. You can also ask your ECP for lens coatings and tints that help maximize visual abilities and comfort while using digital devices.
In an increasingly digital world, digital eye strain is a prevalent problem. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it. By following the tips listed above, you should be able to avoid digital eye strain while you use your computer and other digital devices. If you experience symptoms of digital eye strain that don’t improve with self-care, consult an ECP immediately.