Eye Infections and Irritations
Digital Eye Strain
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital Eye Strain or what is also known as Computer Vision Syndrome is the physical discomfort felt when using screens and other digital devices such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and mobile phones at close or mid-range distances for prolonged periods of time. It is temporary; however, the discomfort it causes can be minimized by following a few simple steps.
We now live in a world where staring at screens for long periods of time is all part of a normal day. On average, high digital users can spend 10 hours or more staring at screens per day. There are a number of factors that determine the amount of strain our bodies feel as a result of this. These include:
- Lighting in the room
- Time spent looking at the screen or device
- Viewing distance from the screen
- Screen size
- Number of screens being used at the same time
- Viewing angles
- Glare on the screen
- Seating posture
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
Eye care professionals can diagnose digital eye strain through an eye exam, and should ask relevant questions around screen usage and other near task activities to see what implications they may have to the eyes.
Symptoms of digital eye strain include:
- Tired eyes
- Eye strain
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes/red eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
Treatment for Digital Eye Strain
With these simple practices, you can reduce, or even prevent the effects of digital eye strain
- Lighting and screens – Make sure the overhead lighting is comfortable on the eyes, and the screen illumination is equal or similar to the lighting in the room. Position the computer screen so that it avoids glare from lights and windows. Use better quality desk top screens where available, to reduce the amount of flicker that emits from the screen. This can help with eye tiredness. Also high resolution screens will provide a crisper image, so easier to focus on. Always try to avoid using screens in a dark room.
- Viewing distance and posture – Try not to lean forwards to see the screen better. The viewing distance to desk top screens should be at arm’s length and positioned just below eye level, which will be better for the eyes as well as promoting better posture whilst sitting at a desk. This applies to mobile phones and tablets too. Adjusting the font size accordingly will help to naturally adjust to a better viewing distance. Good posture is very important; feet should be rested flat on the floor, chairs with arms should be used for extra support and wrists should be elevated and not resting on the keyboard.
- Take regular breaks and blink more – Prolonged near vision tasks will tire the eye muscles and also prevent us from blinking as much as we should. Each blink rewets the front surface of the eye which keeps the eyes moist and, in turn, helps us see clearer. It is important to allow the eyes to refocus on more distant objects to ease the eye muscles and also this is a good time to introduce more blinking into the day. The 20-20-20 rule can help, where every 20 minutes the eyes look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Make sure your seat is comfortable to help avoid neck and shoulder pain which is commonly associated with digital eye strain.
Always consult your eye care practitioner for further advice.