Have your eyes ever felt heavy or tired after a workday? Do you have nagging headaches and persistent back pain? You may be suffering from digital eye strain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “11 million Americans over age 12 need vision correction.” This doesn’t include the number of people who are suffering from digital eye strain, which is responsible for 10 million eye doctor visits annually.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital Eye Strain, also known as eye fatigue, is a common but rarely serious condition that affects those who use digital devices, such as laptop, mobile phones, handheld consoles, and similar items. It is characterized by a burning sensation in the eyes, oftentimes followed by an itchy feeling. The eyes feel tired, as if you need to rest them immediately.
The Vision Council recently released a study showing that nine in 10 adults spend over two hours each day using a digital device. Due to this, the organization concludes that 65 percent of its respondents report symptoms of digital eye strain which include “dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain and headaches.”
This means that exposure to these devices for over two consecutive hours already puts you at risk of digital eye strain. It can further be aggravated by looking at bright lights, or reading in places where lighting is not ideal.
Unfortunately, it looks like the condition will continue to affect a vast majority of those who use these devices, particularly since we tend to hold up these devices closer to our faces than what we would normally do with a book or a newspaper. This therefore forces your eyes to work harder.
Another factor to consider when talking about digital eye strain is that people tend to blink less often when looking at a screen. While we usually blink at least 18 times per minute, this is significantly lessened when looking at technology. As such, the practice results to dry and tired eyes.
How to Prevent It
Thankfully, there are a number of ways through which you can prevent digital eye strain. Consider the following:
- Place your devices at least 20-26 inches away from your eyes. They should be a little below your eye level.
- If applicable, get multicoated computer glasses that help filter out the glare.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Pause every 20 minutes to look at a green object at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
- Take frequent breaks away from your monitor, even if this just means standing up for a coffee break.
- Use artificial tears or eye drops when your eyes feel tired and dry.
If you continue to feel the effects of digital eye strain after following these tips, it may be time for you to consult your eye doctor to ensure that the eye fatigue and dryness you feel is not caused by an underlying condition. At this point, a routine eye exam should be able to help determine if you need prescription glasses or other kinds of treatment.