Prevention Of Eye Strain In The Digital Age

Undeniably, the age of globalization has improved the definition of comfort, ease, and convenience for our generation. The transition to the new decade only guarantees us more promising technological advancements and innovations.

Common Reasons Behind It

The rise of new technology like VR or Virtual Reality, among others, only gives us a hint that our eyes would more likely to be exposed to higher amounts of light. And too much exposure to harmful light is known to cause eye strain.

Eye strain or asthenopia is fairly common for many individuals. Since we use our eyes almost all day long, you can easily see why most people suffer from this ailment. Symptoms of eye strain may include but are not limited to ocular fatigue, dryness or itchiness of eyes, discomfort, dimmed vision, headache, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.

Contrary to what most people believe, eye strain rarely happens overnight. It is usually caused by the build-up of fatigue over an extended period. The more stressed your eyes are from daily activities, the more likely you are to have an eye strain.

Exhaustion of your eyes could be caused by shifting your focus back and forth in a quick manner, like when you are trying to look at multiple subjects at the same time. Re-adjusting the focus of your eyes could be a strenuous task, especially when done frequently.

It can also be caused by regularly focusing on small text or minute objects, reading books or driving for extended periods. Anything that compels you to focus your sight on a single activity for a prolonged time. Doing so can easily dry out your tear film, and expose your eyes to dust and irritation. The moisture of your environment can also be a contributing factor for dry eyes.

Lack of sleep also contributes to the build-up of fatigue resulting in eye strain. It is also worth noting that adequate lighting is essential to preventing eye strain since having too much or too little light can be a factor in acquiring this ailment.

digital eyestrain due to phone use

How Screens And Gadgets Increase Risk Of Eye Strain

Screen time has been associated with eye strain since it almost always has something to do with exposure to light. According to the vision council, Approximately 80 percent of adult Americans spend at least 2 hours on digital devices, which could explain why about 59 percent of the subjects reportedly experienced one or more symptoms of eye strain.

Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome is a condition that refers to eye fatigue associated with the excessive use of digital devices. Another thing associated with the use of computers or mobile screens is the infamous blue light.

Blue light reportedly affects the brain and its production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm or sleep cycle. Its production is responsible for making us sleepy. The suppression of melatonin can lead to difficulty in sleeping and keeping us awake which can directly contribute to eye strain.

Aside from blue light, perpetually staring at your digital screens for a long time could be a very tedious task for your eyes. Our visual system works harder when we are looking at our digital screens because the image that we are seeing is rapidly flickering multiple times per second.

Focusing too hard on a single region of your screen easily dries out your eyes. Not to mention a significant decline in the number of blinks you do. This should be about 10 times per minute, to maintain the natural level of water, saline, oils, and other components of the healthy human tear. 

Prevention and Tips

Minimize Eye Movement

One good practice to minimize your eye’s movement is by placing your subjects closer together. If you are working on your computer have to manage multiple files, make sure the tabs and windows are closer together, this way you are suppressing eye movement. If in case you are using a hard copy as a reference, put it on a stand close to your monitor, or you can use a document stand to help you with physical documents.

It is also good to learn “touch typing”, a method to avoid looking down at your keyboard and back at the screen as often as necessary, preventing dispensable eye movements.

Decrease The Time Spent On A Single Activity

Always remember to take a quick short break from time to time whenever you’re working on something that requires priority from your eyesight, especially on a digital device. The 20/20/20 method is the most popular tip for resting your eyes. The rule states that after 20 minutes of digital device use, take a time off-screen for 20 seconds, and staring at something 20 feet away.

Of course, some activities call for our full concentration such as driving, in this case, the best thing you can do is to remember blinking enough and keeping the moisture in your vehicle optimal, make sure to wear protective eyewear if traveling open-air.

Consider Using Eye Drops

If you’re constantly experiencing dry eyes then you might want to consider getting a prescription from your qualified doctor. The moisture in your eyes could easily evaporate due to slight changes in the atmosphere and long periods of non-blinking phases, so it is good to use eye drops or gels to help relieve dry eyes.

Reducing Exposure To Blue Light

You can do this by using an anti-glare eyewear or screen filter. A lot of mobile phones and other gadgets also support blue-light filter applications which reduce the amount of blue-light emission. If you can’t avoid exposure to gadgets 1 or 2 hours before going to sleep, use the blue-light filter, doing so would also encourage melatonin production helping you sleep at the right time. 

Adequate rest is the best prevention, and interestingly enough, the first aid if you have eye strain. For extreme and persisting symptoms of eye strain, talk to your trusted eye doctor for a proper diagnosis.

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