We are seeing an increasing number of customers complaining of headaches, tired or dry eyes and even blurred vision when sat at their desks. All of these symptoms are associated with digital eye strain. So in this article I will be explaining what digital eye strain is and what you can do about it.
Digital eye strain is a temporary discomfort caused by prolonged screen use. This can be any screen projecting artificial light, computers, smartphones, tablets etc. Screen text or images are made up of tiny pixels which can sometimes be difficult for our eyes to read, causing eye fatigue or strain. With smaller handheld devices, we tend to hold them low and rather than looking down with our eyes only we tend to move our entire head. This in turn can cause strain to our neck and even our shoulders. Most types of screen emit what is known as blue light, this type of light causes eye fatigue. Research is also being done on whether it is linked to cataracts and Macular degeneration. Finally when staring at a screen we tend not to blink as much and when we do it is not a full blink. This will break up the tear layer much quicker which in turn causes dry eye. All of these things come under the umbrella of digital eye strain.
More and more of us spend our days staring at screens and it certainly won’t be stopping anytime soon. However there are things you can do to prevent or ease digital eye strain.
Just think 20-20-20 – It sounds relatively simple but so many of us forget to just have a break from the screen. The 20-20-20 rule goes as follows:- Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 metres away for 20 seconds. Doing this allows the focusing muscles in the eyes to relax thus reducing eye fatigue.
Adjust your lighting (if you can)- Most office environments have lighting that is much too bright for screen use. Too much light can cause screen glare, adding to the effects of eye strain. Reducing the lighting to about 50% of what you would normally have will compensate for the light of the bright screen.
Adjust your screen – This can cover many things. If using a desktop make sure your screen is in line with your natural gaze, which is usually just below eye level. You could also adjust the brightness of any digital screen. Most smartphones and tablets now have an adaptive screen which changes brightness in accordance with your surroundings. We suggest keeping this function on. Along with brightness control, most screens now have some sort of blue light filter that you can switch on and off as you please. This is also available as a coating on prescription or non prescription glasses.
Remember to blink – Consciously blinking is going to greatly increase the quality of your eyes tear layer, keeping them from becoming dry. A difficult habit to get into so if you struggle, there are eye drops you can use. Most are available over the counter without prescription. We recommend Thealoz Duo but numerous brands are available.
Computer glasses – There are lenses known as “boost” or “digital” lenses that are fairly new to the market. They have been made specifically for people with this particular type of eye strain. They target short sighted (myopic) 20-40 year olds presenting with eye strain symptoms. The lenses have a small section of magnification that vary in power which sit in front of the eyes natural gaze towards a screen. This means the eyes focusing muscles do not have to work as hard, reducing eye fatigue. Other lens solutions include varifocals, single vision computer or occupational lenses. It is always best to take the advice from your optician and attend for your regular check ups.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms we’ve listed today, don’t self diagnose. Come in and see us, we will talk you through the options and find a solution that’s best for you.