Two hours. Just 2 hours in front of a digital screen can cause your eyes to feel strained and tired.
The average Australian spends a cumulative 10 hours a day staring at some form of digital screen. Work and school make us dependent on computers, tablets and mobile devices, and as if that’s not enough screen time already, we also use digital devices for fun and relaxation!
Our eyes can’t talk, so they tell us “I’ve had enough!” by becoming strained and feeling tired.
You begin to experience dry eyes, headaches and neck pain, your sleep cycle gets disrupted, you work long hours yet accomplish little and have difficulty focusing on tasks, and sometimes you experience blurry vision.
These symptoms often come from:
- straining to see in dim or poor lighting
- exposure to screen glare and blue light
- improper viewing distances from devices
- long periods of activities that require you to focus and concentrate
- poor posture to accommodate viewing angle
- not blinking enough
Eyecare Plus optometrist Dr Alexander Du explains, “Every electronic screen emits high amounts of blue light. What is blue light? Light that we see is made up of the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colours vary in wavelength and energy. The blue, indigo and violet lights are of a higher frequency and hence higher energy.
“Studies suggest that over time, exposure to these high energy blue lights may cause both short and long-term damage to your eyes. Higher energy blue light also flickers more than longer wavelengths of light. This flickering can create a glare that can reduce contrast and affect clarity which can then cause eye strain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue.”
What is digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain, digital eye fatigue, or computer vision syndrome is an eye condition occurring when focusing for extended periods of time on a digital device.
Alex Du states, “It is the blue light from these devices when used for long periods or held too close to the eye that are most likely to cause eye strain. When you focus up close, your eye muscles work hard, and looking at fixed distances on your screen for extended periods will lead to digital eye strain.”
Relieve digital eye strain by following a few easy steps:
1. Blink Often
Remind yourself to blink frequently to avoid your eyes drying out. Each time you blink, you shield the moisture from evaporating from your eyes.
2. Position Your Computer Monitor
Keep your computer monitor at arm’s length for proper viewing distance and have the top of the monitor near or below eye level to avoid straining your eyes and neck.
3. Consider Computer Glasses
Computer glasses are a popular way to decrease symptoms of digital eye strain. They look like regular glasses but feature a protective lens coating that helps filter out harmful blue light from reaching your eyes, keeping your eyes relaxed. Ask us about computer glasses.
4. Turn Them Off
Our ancestors enjoyed life before the advent of the Internet, smartphones and computers. Do activities that don’t require you to focus on near tasks on your devices. Take a stroll in the park with your pet or recharge over a cup of coffee with a friend whom you haven’t chatted with in a while. Make sure to strike a deal–“no phones”–for a couple of hours. Your eyes will thank you for it.
5. Don’t Miss Your Eye Tests
Digital eye strain gets worse if you have unattended eye conditions. Ensure that you have regular comprehensive eye tests every year, regardless of whether you are a heavy digital device user or not.
6. Use the 20-20-20 Rule
Simple rule to follow. Each time you use your digital device, take a 20-second break from the screen every 20-minutes and look at something 20-feet away.
It’s almost impossible to keep our eyes off digital devices, so let’s find ways to work around this while living in the present times.