Do you know how much time you're spending each day looking at screens?
Between our work computers, tablets, TVs, and smartphones, the average person can rack up a pretty staggering amount of daily screentime these days. That can be pretty taxing on the eyes. All it takes to create a 90% risk of digital eye strain is a mere two hours in front of a screen, so it's no surprise that over ten million people go to their eye doctors about it every year.
Common Digital Eye Strain Symptoms
We suspect that many of our patients may be living with digital eye strain symptoms right now without recognizing where they come from. Here are a few to watch out for:
- A burning or itching sensation in the eyes
- Unusual dryness in the eyes — or unusually watery eyes
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Regular neck, shoulders, or back soreness and frequent headaches
- Increased light sensitivity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty keeping eyes open
Any of these symptoms can be a drain on your ability to work effectively, making it a pretty serious problem for anyone who uses their computer for work. Reducing screentime is the obvious remedy, but that isn't possible in many cases. The good news is that there are easy strategies we can use to diminish or eliminate strain.
Factor Eye Comfort Into Your Office Setup
Something as simple as changing the angle of your computer screen could make a big difference for your eyes. Aim to keep your screen a minimum of 20 inches from your eyes, slightly below eye level, and angled slightly upward. Keep any reference materials within easy view so that you don't have to constantly swivel to look at them.
Think About Your Light Sources
The actual screen might also not be the only issue. How many light sources are in your workspace? Do you have a combination of the screen, overhead lighting, and natural light coming in through windows? Try to eliminate light sources that are causing glare on your screen if it is possible to do so without compromising the comfortable position of your screen. If you can't eliminate glare by repositioning, try a glare filter for your screen.
The 20-20-20 Rule Can Be Life-Changing
Why do screens make our eyes so tired? One reason is that we tend to blink less when we look at screens. You can compensate for that by living by the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes you spend on a screen, take a 20-second break and find an object at least 20 feet away to focus on instead. Use reminders to help you get into the habit.
Computer Glasses Can Really Help
Just like we use sunglasses to shield our eyes from the sun, we can wear computer glasses to filter out the blue light blazing from our screens, making them a little gentler on the eyes. This solution won't work for anyone using a screen for something like graphic design, since it alters the colors you see, but it can be very helpful otherwise.
Bring the Optometrist Your Eye Strain Questions
Of course, the final excellent resource our patients have is the optometrist! There's no reason to continue living with eye strain in silence. Come talk to us about the symptoms you're experiencing and we can discuss how to reduce or eliminate them. We can also make sure there isn't some other cause behind the symptoms.