Digital Eye Strain describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use. Nowadays, many stare at a screen for 8 hours a day while we work, and spend a significant amount of time on our computer or mobile devices when we get home.
While technology is a great way to stay connected with our friends, be informed with current events, and more, prolonged exposure to screens can be detrimental to your eye health.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Some of the most common symptoms of digital eye strain include blurry vision, headaches, dry eyes, and strained vision. In addition, you can also experience neck and shoulder pain.
Digital eye strain happens because when you are reading or writing on a computer screen, your eyes have to work harder than if you were reading a printed page or writing on a piece of paper. Viewing a computer or digital screen is different from reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult.
Viewing distances and angles used for this type of work are also often different from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for digital screen viewing can place additional demands on the visual system.
How Can I Promote Eye Health When I Have to Look at a Screen All Day?
The best way you can prevent digital eye strain is by limiting your exposure to screens, if possible. While you obviously cannot limit your time looking at your computer at work, you can still incorporate the 20/20/20 Practice to help give your eyes a break. This practice includes taking a 20 second break from looking at the screen every 20 minutes, and focusing instead on something that is around 20 feet away from you. This is a simple way to give your eyes a break during the workday.
When looking at screens, make sure to blink often! Oftentimes we blink less than normal when we’re looking at a screen, so make sure to be proactive about taking the time to blink and give your eyes a break.
Regular eye exams are also incredibly important to make sure that your eyes and vision remain healthy when you are concerned about digital eye strain.