Digital Eye Strain

How long do you spend looking at your computer screen every day? Or your smartphone? Or your tablet? Add in television and gaming system time and you or your family members may end up suffering from symptoms of Digital Eye Strain. 

According to research published on PC Magazine online, the average adult spends 5.9 hours per day with digital media, up from 3 hours a day since 2009. That means hour after hour of time that your eyes and the related muscles are becoming strained. Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon and how you can reduce the impact on your and your family’s health. 

What is Digital Eye Strain and Its Symptoms? 

Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows after two or more hours spent using a digital device. The strain can occur from switching back and forth from one digital device to another. For example, many adults and children spend copious amounts of time working on projects on their laptops or desktops only to switch to recreational activities on their gaming system, smartphone, or television. The symptoms can include red, dry, or irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back, neck, and shoulder pain, and headaches. 

What Causes the Eye Strain? 

These symptoms are not really caused by one thing but rather many issues that are related to digital use. Digital devices often feature small print and pixelated images that can be difficult to read and cause our eyes to strain in order to focus. We may also be using the devices improperly by holding them at the wrong angle or too far away from our eyes.  Blue light, also referred to as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is another cause of computer eye strain.

Preventing Digital Eye Strain 

For many of us, avoiding too many hours of digital tech use is not in the cards, whether it is due to school or work or just a desire to maintain a certain lifestyle. In order to reduce or prevent eye strain, there are a few things you can do on your own. 

One of the best things you can do to prevent eye strain is to take frequent breaks, meaning get up and take a quick walk away from whatever device you are using. Pay attention to your body. Many people tend to lose track of time and suddenly realize their neck, back, or head is achy. Also, try to keep your devices at least an arm’s length away from you, although this may be difficult with small print or graphics that are hard to see. 

Another prevention technique that many people find helpful is to reduce screen glare by dimming the overhead lighting in the room. This may mean shutting off other lights in the surrounding area. Some users find that increasing the text size helps as well. 

As eye doctors, we would be remiss if we did not mention computer glasses as another option to alleviate digital eye strain. Talk to our doctors at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons if you are suffering from the symptoms of Digital Eye Strain.