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How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

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A girl in front of a computer massaging her tired eyes to relax.

We use technology more than ever, working on computers and using phones consistently throughout the day. If you’re using your digital devices all day, you may experience digital eye strain. This condition can lead to dry eyes, headaches, and blurry vision. 

Many people assume digital eye strain is a normal part of using the computer or phone too much, but your eye doctor can help. They can help you find ways to prevent these symptoms, letting you enjoy comfortable digital device use. 

Continue reading to learn more about digital eye strain, including what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent this condition from developing.

What Is Digital Eye Strain? 

Digital eye strain occurs when your eyes become tired or strained after working on digital devices for long periods of time. You can experience eye strain from using your phone, computer, tablet, or other digital screens. Digital eye strain is becoming more common as we use these devices more than ever before. 

The average American worker spends 7 hours of their day on the computer. Additional research has found that approximately 50% of computer users experience digital eye strain symptoms

While digital eye strain symptoms go away with time, they can be uncomfortable to deal with and affect your ability to focus and enjoy daily life. 

Digital Eye Strain Symptoms

You may experience several irritating symptoms when you have digital eye strain, including: 

  • Headaches 
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Sore neck, shoulders, or back
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating 

It’s common to have one or more of these symptoms at once. If you have digital eye strain, what causes this irritation? 

What Causes Digital Eye Strain? 

Digital eye strain occurs when your eyes become strained from extended focusing for long periods of time. You experience irritation because your eyes become overused from digital devices, reading, driving, or other close-up activities. 

Eye strain is more common when using digital devices because these screens make your eyes work harder. They constantly focus and refocus when using digital screens, causing them to tire faster. How people use their devices can lead to digital eye strain symptoms. 

The Effect of Digital Devices on the Eyes

Your eyes complete many different actions when using the computer. They move back and forth to read, shift your gaze between different screens, and react to changing images. 

Combining these actions with the contrast, flicker, glare, and reflection on screens can lead to discomfort. Additionally, many people use their digital devices poorly, such as: 

  • Blinking less when using computers
  • Viewing digital screens from poor distances & angles 
  • Using devices with glare or reflection 
  • Using devices with poor contrast between text & background 

Some people may have an undiagnosed vision problem causing or aggravating their symptoms. 

A boy wearing protective eyeglasses to prevent blue lights from his gadget.

How Can You Prevent Digital Eye Strain? 

Digital eye strain is preventable when you change how you use your digital devices. After learning about your digital habits, your eye doctor can recommend the best changes for your needs.

You can help prevent digital eye strain symptoms with several changes. 

Adjust Your Devices

Adjusting your phone and computer’s settings can help prevent digital eye strain. You can make your text larger, raise the contrast on your screen, or change the screen’s brightness to match your surroundings. These changes make it easier for your eyes to read information off your devices. 

Avoid Glare & Reflection

Glare and reflection can make it harder to see your screen, forcing your eyes to work harder to read. Reducing incoming glare and reflection can lower your risk of digital eye strain symptoms. 

Keep your screens away from incoming sunlight and overhead lighting to avoid glare and reflection. 

Blink Frequently

Many people using the computer blink up to 50% less, leading to dry and irritated eyes. Frequent blinking can help your eyes stay hydrated and avoid eye strain. It can feel weird to remind yourself to blink, but try to remember to do so throughout the day or use artificial tears for temporary moisture. 

Have a Well Setup Workstation

You can help prevent digital eye strain symptoms by changing how you sit and use your computer. Use a chair that sits at the right height, allowing you to rest your feet on the floor. 

Sit at least 25 inches (an arm’s length) away from your computer screen and have your screen angle slightly downward. These adjustments help reduce the strain on your eyes and neck. 

Use the 20-20-20 Rule

Taking breaks can help your eyes rest, preventing eye strain. You can take short breaks throughout the day using the 20-20-20 rule

Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something at least 20 feet away. Following this rule consistently can help your eyes have time to focus on something other than your computer or phone screen. 

Digital Eye Strain Isn’t a Guarantee 

Digital eye strain doesn’t have to be an issue every time you use your devices. Visiting your eye doctor can help determine the cause of your irritation. They can recommend ways to reduce or prevent future eye strain symptoms. Contact your optometrist at Los Angeles EyeCare Optometry Group if you experience digital eye strain symptoms.

Written by Total Vision

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