Computer vision syndrome, also called digital eye strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems resulting from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods.
The pain level appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.This is a type of eye strain that is caused by the prolonged use of digital screens. Among other symptoms, computer vision syndrome can cause:
- Eye fatigue
- Dry eyes
However, experiencing computer vision syndrome doesn’t mean you must completely give up your screen time. The way you view a digital screen can make a big difference.
To learn more about computer vision syndrome, read on. We’ll explore the causes and symptoms of this condition and lifestyle changes that may help prevent it.
What is a Digital Eye strain?
Digital devices like laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets are all fixtures of daily life in the modern world. Unfortunately, there may be consequences to relying so heavily on these items for work and play. Prolonged use of any of these devices can cause you to develop a painful condition known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.
Reading or looking at images on a digital screen is different from a printed page. The background colour and letters' contrast are lower than on a printed page. Glare and blue light from computer screens affect the eyes differently. Notes or pictures on a computer screen are less defined than in a physical media piece.
The level of discomfort often increases with the amount of use. The average American worker spends about seven hours every day working on a computer. This statistic does not account for personal time on screens, including playing games, watching movies, or reading books at home.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) found that some people who use computers for even two hours per day were at risk of digital eye strain symptoms.
A 2015 survey found that 65 per cent of American adults reported experiencing digital eye strain. The “blink rate,” invisible visual updates constantly happening on digital screens, leads people to blink fewer because their eyes are flickering in minuscule ways to keep up with the changes. Less blinking, different perceptions of distances, and poor ergonomics or lighting in your office environment can all lead to digital eye strain.
For the most part, symptoms of digital eye strain can be treated with minor lifestyle changes. However, it can be uncomfortable if the person does not know how to handle the issue. Existing eye problems like farsightedness or astigmatism can make symptoms of digital eye strain worse rather than the other way around.
Causes of Digital Eye Strain?
Eye strain is caused by intensely focusing your eyes during a task. Causes can include:
- Computer and cell phone use
- Extended periods of detail work (sewing, writing)
Eye strain is tired eyes. It is sometimes also called eye fatigue. Doing these chores or tasks in dim light can intensify eye strain. People with prior eye conditions, such as uncorrected vision or a muscle imbalance, are at greater risk of eye strain. Stress and fatigue can also contribute to eye strain.
Digital eye strain has several causes. People blink less when using computers or screens, leading to dry eyes. Digital devices can cause eye strain because of their glare or poor contrast between the type and background.
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
The most common symptoms associated with digital eye strain are:
- Eye strain
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes.
- Neck and shoulder pain.
These symptoms may be caused by:
- Poor lighting.
- Glare on a digital screen
- improper viewing distances.
- Poor sitting posture
- Uncorrected vision problems
- A combination of these factors
Adjust your computer
Place your computer screen 20 to 28 inches from your eyes. Sitting too close to a digital screen can increase your risk of eye strain.
Place the screen slightly below eye level, about 4 to 5 inches. Tilt the top of the screen back about 10 to 20 degrees. Ensure you’re not tilting your neck upward or downward to see the screen.
You can also make the text and images more visible and easier to read by increasing your device's contrast, brightness, and font size.
Blinking helps prevent your eyes from drying out by spreading moisture and mucus across your eyes. If you don’t blink often enough, it can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.
Looking at a computer or digital screen may cause you to blink less often than you should. In fact, according to the University of Iowa, you blink 66 per cent less while on a computer.
Try to remember to blink when using a computer or other digital device, and take regular breaks from your screen to give your eyes a rest.
Take regular breaks
A significant risk factor for computer vision syndrome is the continuous use of a digital screen.
To minimise your risk, take routine breaks:
Follow the 20-20-20 rule
The 20-20-20 rule can help your eyes refocus and rest. Look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
After 2 hours of continuous screen use, rest your eyes for 15 minutes. Move away from your computer and focus on objects closer and further away than your digital screen. Rest for 15 minutes.
Do non-screen tasks
During each break, avoid looking at another digital screen. Try doing non-screen tasks like organising paperwork or taking a walk.
Reduce screen glare
Screen glare happens when light is reflected off your screen. The light often comes from overhead lighting fixtures or nearby windows.
Try to reduce or eliminate glare by:
- Close blinds, shades, or curtains on windows to reduce or minimise screen glare.
- Use lower-wattage light bulbs.
- Dimming overhead lights
- Add a screen glare filter to your computer.
I-DEW LOC Tears Eye Drops are for those exposed to screens for extended periods and exposed to dry, dusty environments. This formula features a blend of ocular lubricants that provides longer-lasting lubrication and comfort for severely dry eyes. It's suitable for use during long journeys or car rides.
Computer eye strain is a condition that is likely to become more common in the future as more jobs require extended screen time. There has been comparatively little research into computer eye strain. The only certainty about computer eye strain is that reducing screen time will likely help. The same is true of its prevention and management. People can try exercises, such as the 20-20-20 rule, but if the problem persists, they should see a doctor or vision therapist. There may be a more serious underlying condition at play.