Your Eyes vs. Your Screen: a crash-course in Digital Eye Strain
From video conferencing to online classes, COVID-19 has us more reliant on our devices than ever before. With the majority of people now working from home, it's more important than ever to be on the lookout for any signs of Digital Eye Strain, because chances are you've already experienced at least one symptom.
What is digital eye strain?
Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is the combination of eye and vision problems associated with the use of digital devices, including computers, TVs, phones and tablets.
CVS is extremely common, with up to 90% of computer users experiencing some form of discomfort after prolonged computer use.*
How do I know if I'm experiening CVS?
Common symptoms include:
Dry or red eyes
Blurred or double vision
General eye fatigue
Neck or shoulder pain
Why does Digital Eye Strain occur?
Whilst the digital age was never good for our eyes, COVID-19 has drastically increased the time we spend on digital devices. When it comes to working from home, many home offices are poorly lit with a not-so-ergonomic setup, and we've seen an increase in cases of digital eye strain this year.
Reasons our eyes feel strain after using digital devices include:
Our eyes are focusing more intensively, as they need to adjust to increasingly smaller, pixelated characters and bright, glowing screens.
Digital devices are backlit and emit blue-violet light that can cause strain and discomfort and has been linked to disrupted sleeping patterns.
Smartphones have placed even greater focusing demand on our eyes because they are held much closer than computers and tablets.
Digital device use alters the pattern of blinking the eyes, reducing the number of blinks per minute, making the eyes feel dry and uncomfortable.
Our posture has changed as we lean toward our screens and/or slouch in our chairs, putting a strain on the neck and back.
What can I do?
If we're being honest, we know that cutting down screen time just isn't an option for the majority of people. The good news: we have some tips that can help prevent digital eye strain.
1. Take breaks
Your eyes are working harder than ever; make sure you don't make their job any harder by taking frequent breaks. Use the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes in front of a digital device, take a 20-second break and look at something that's 20 feet (7 metres) away.
Remember to blink regularly. It may sound obvious, but several studies have found that people blink far less frequently when looking at screens compared to reading from hard copies, which exacerbates eye strain.**
3. Adjust computer settings and work area
If working on a computer, make sure your screen is between 40-75cm, or an arm's length, from you. The top of your screen should be just slightly below eye level. Enlarge the font size if that makes it easier to see.
Many devices now let you enable a blue light filter, which can help alleviate some of the strain on your eyes.
Additionally, make sure you've got a comfortable chair and good ambient lighting. Try to reduce directional light (i.e. don't shine a desk lamp directly onto the screen) as this increases glare.
4. A note about COVID-19...
If you're spending more time at home, make sure you're not just hopping from screen to screen. Instead of wandering over to the couch and watching TV during your lunch break, take the dog for a walk, sit outside in the sun, or do some stretches. This can also help alleviate some of the secondary symptoms of CVS, including headaches and soreness in the upper body.
5. Get a pair of anti-fatigue (computer) glasses
Whilst adjusting the blue light settings on your devices can help, anti-fatigue glasses are far more powerful at blocking both UV light and blue light, and are specifically designed to relax your eyes and reduce strain.
Anti-fatigue lenses are desgined for everyone - from people who already wear glasses to those who have perfect vision. And the best part? Our Anti-Fatigue Glasses packages start at just $299 - the same price as a cup of coffee a day for just three months!
We’re passionate about helping you and your family enjoy a lifetime of healthy, clear vision.
If you start to notice any symptoms of digital eye strain or any changes in your vision, please give us a call, or make an appointment online.
Want to read more?
Read a little on our favorite tried-and-tested Anti Fatigue Lenses:
Essilor EyeZen Start Lenses (for teenagers-young adults)
*Rosenfield, M. (2011). Computer vision syndrome: a review of ocular causes and potential treatments. Ophthalmic And Physiological Optics, 31(5), 502-515.
**van Tilborg, M., Murphy, P., & Evans, K. (2017). Impact of Dry Eye Symptoms and Daily Activities in a Modern Office. Optometry And Vision Science, 94(6), 688-693.