In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals found themselves spending long periods in front of digital devices – an inevitable necessity under some circumstances, but one which may cause eye strain and fatigue.
Digital eye strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), refers to vision-related conditions caused by prolonged computer use on computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers. Symptoms may include improper lighting conditions and glare from digital devices as well as uncorrected vision issues that go undetected by your vision care provider.
1. Change Your Habits
Digital eye strain, unlike conditions like glaucoma, is not permanent and can be effectively mitigated with changes to habits. Therefore, it’s crucial that parents discuss with their kids the importance of limiting screen time while instead creating an action plan together to best serve all involved parties.
Make sure your desk chair and computer screen are at an appropriate height, and angle downward to reduce glare. Also remember to blink frequently throughout the day (people can blink up to 50% less when staring at screens) in order to keep eyes moistened.
Avoid long periods of screen time and take frequent breaks in order to reduce eye strain, such as following the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from the screen for 20 seconds to focus on something 20 feet away – this helps relax the focusing muscles in your eyes and prevent dry eye syndrome from setting in.
2. Take Breaks
As we spend too much time staring at screens, they can strain our eyes and result in symptoms such as dry eye, blurry vision and headaches. Taking frequent breaks from screens throughout the day may help alleviate these symptoms and keep them from worsening further.
One effective solution is the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests looking away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes when using digital devices such as computers or phones. A recent study demonstrated that following this strategy helped participants experience less digital eye strain (including watery and dry eyes) when using this break schedule than when they didn’t use any.
Work or reading can become so immersive that it can be easy to forget to take necessary breaks, so consider using an app that will remind or force you to look up every few minutes to stretch your muscles and relax them. Frequent blinking also helps as does drinking water or going for short walks outside to hydrate the eyes.
3. Change Your Light Settings
Use of digital devices with the appropriate settings can help to ease eye strain. Brightness and hue can have a dramatic impact on how they make you feel.
Make sure that the brightness of your screen matches that of the lighting in your environment, or it could strain your eyes more. A screen that is more intensely lit than its surroundings could increase eye strain significantly.
Adjust the brightness settings on your computer so it is not too bright during the day and lowers to a warmer setting in the evening, thus helping minimize blue light’s effects on retinas.
Glare filters may also help your eyes focus more easily on text on the screen, making reading easier for you and making life more manageable for those with eye strain. They can usually be found on apps or websites offering solutions for screen health.
4. Wear Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses
Optometrists can help provide relief for digital eye strain. Alternating between glasses and contacts could provide the best of both worlds, allowing you to wear one at different times throughout the day depending on your visual needs.
Contact lenses fit directly over the eyes without reflecting off surfaces, eliminating many sources of glare that cause eye strain. In addition, daily disposable contact lenses reduce risk for infection while keeping eyes feeling fresh and hydrated.
Glasses with blue light filters are designed to block shortwavelength blue light that emits from screens and contributes to fatigued eyes and sleep disturbance. As people seek protection against digital eye strain, these blue light filter glasses have become increasingly popular.