Digital Eye Strain: What You Need to Know

Digital Eye Strain: What You Need to Know

Spending more than two hours looking at a screen can cause digital eye strain.

Whether you like it or not, we live in an age where technology impacts every aspect of our lives.

You probably start off every morning by turning off your digital alarm clock or snoozing your phone alarm. You might work in an industry that requires you to work on a computer or tablet for the majority of the day. You also probably spend a considerable amount of your free time staring at a screen for entertainment purposes—such as social media, movies, and online shopping.

But what impact does all of this increased screen time have on your health?

Staring at a screen for more than two hours at a time can result in digital eye strain, which is the term used to describe a wide range of unpleasant symptoms that are a consequence of fatigued eye muscles. If you’re a part of the 83 percent of Americans who spend more than two hours looking at a screen every day, chances are you have experienced some discomfort stemming from digital eye strain at some point in your life.

It’s important to understand how digital eye strain could impact your daily life and to be aware of the ways you can prevent it.

How does digital eye strain affect me?

Spending more than two hours looking at a screen can cause digital eye strain.

Before you start to panic, straining your eyes by staring at a screen for hours on end hasn’t been linked to permanent eye damage. However, it will result in an array of uncomfortable symptoms that will make everyday tasks seem more challenging.

Some of the most common symptoms of digital eye strain include:

    • Dry eye
    • Headaches
    • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

For many people, these symptoms can also hinder their focus on the task they’re trying to accomplish or completely halt all productivity. In short, these symptoms prevent you from being at the top of your game, so it’s important to combat them before they even start to occur.

How can I avoid digital eye strain?

Spending more than two hours looking at a screen can cause digital eye strain.

For many people, spending hours on end staring at a screen is inevitable. Between the demands of work and daily life, avoiding technology is nearly impossible in this day and age. This is why it’s important to adopt a few simple habits that will lessen the strain technology has on your eyes.

The first practice you should integrate into your life is the 20-20-20 rule. This rule says that for every twenty minutes you spend staring at a digital screen, you should take a twenty-second break and stare at something at least twenty feet away. This gives your eye muscles a chance to relax and prevents them from becoming fatigued. By taking just one minute out of every hour to give your eyes a break, you will significantly decrease your chance of developing eye strain symptoms.

Another great way to lessen eye strain is by avoiding contrast. Contrast may be pleasing to the eye at first, but exposing your eyes to high degrees of contrast for extended periods of time will likely result in tension headaches. Many devices offer the feature of changing the colors on your screen to colors that are less straining on the eyes. Instead of opting for the standard black text-white background combination, choose layouts that have less contrast, such as black text on a gray background. Almost all devices also give you the option to increase the text size, which would be a good idea to do as well.  

A third simple change is to match the degree of brightness of your computer screen to the degree of brightness in the room you are in. Being in a room that has harsh, overhead lighting will create a glare on your screen, and you will have to strain your eyes more to compensate. Avoid this altogether by making sure you’re in a room with lightning that matches the lightning on your computer screen.

Is there anything else I can do?

Spending more than two hours looking at a screen can cause digital eye strain.

The short answer to this question is “yes.”

Adapting the habits and behaviors listed above will be extremely helpful in reducing digital eye strain, but the best thing you can do if you are concerned is consult your eye doctor. By discussing your screen habits with your local optometrist, you’ll be able to gather insight into the best solution for you and your specific lifestyle.

Many eye experts recommend special eyeglasses that are specifically designed to lessen the impact digital technology has on your eyes, and your eye doctor can help you determine if that’s the right option for you.

Technology can make your life easier in so many ways, but you shouldn’t overlook the impact it could be having on your eye health. If you have any questions or concerns about how digital eye strain might be affecting you, talk to an optometrist to learn what your options are.

Spending more than two hours looking at a screen can cause digital eye strain.

Mather Vision Group is an optometry office in Lafayette, Indiana. Contact Mather Vision to schedule an appointment, or stop in to see the optometrist’s large variety of glasses and frames. You can find Mather Vision us online, on Facebook, and on Google+.