What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain affects people of all ages that consistently use digital devices for work or play. Although the age-old adage that sitting too close to screens will “ruin your eyes” simply isn’t true, excessive use can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Some of the most notable symptoms of digital eye strain include:
- Sore or tired eyes
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
What Causes Digital Eye Strain?
Imagine sitting cross-legged for an extended period without shifting your position at all. When you finally get up, your legs will likely feel stiff or sore. Digital eye strain and what causes it is very similar.
Some of the most common causes of digital eye strain include:
- Poor posture
- Improper viewing distances
- Poor lighting
- Glare on your digital screens
- Uncorrected vision problems
The symptoms you experience from device use will vary based on your visual abilities and the time spent using them.
However, one of the best ways to prevent eye strain is to attend regular comprehensive eye exams to ensure any vision problems are corrected. Uncorrected problems like myopia or hyperopia can cause your eyes to work harder than they need to, leading to them becoming tired more quickly.
Preventing & Managing Digital Eye Strain
If you have to regularly use digital devices, staying up-to-date on good habits to adopt can save you from uncomfortable symptoms and tired eyes.
Looking at a screen for a long time can be physically and visually exhausting. To give your eyes a break, follow the 20-20-20 rule.
Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer, focusing on something approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help relax the eye muscles, preventing strain and fatigue.
If you sit at a desk or have to work on digital devices for a good portion of your day, be sure your workspace is comfortable. Some great tips to keep you and your eyes feeling good include:
- Keep your screen about an arms’ length away from your eyes
- Adjust your screen so you are gazing slightly downward at it
- Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor
- If possible, invest in an ergonomic chair that conforms to your back
- If typing, position arms in front of you so they’re slightly bent
- Wrists should not rest on the keyboard
- Position the screen to avoid glare from overhead lights or windows
- Adjust contrast and brightness to match your surroundings
Short-wavelength blue light is emitted from digital displays such as cell phones, tablets, and computer screens. Blue light tends to scatter more and is harder to focus than longer wavelengths. This leads to visual “noise” and reduced contrast.
Computer glasses with blue light filters block short-wavelength light and increase contrast, improving comfort when using digital devices for an extended period.
If you’re interested in how you can improve your symptoms of digital eye strain, please mention it to your optometrist at your next comprehensive eye exam.