Workplace Eye Wellness: Tips to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
How much time do you spend using digital devices? Research suggests that the average American spends at least seven hours every day on some form of digital device, either for work, leisure, or a combination of the two. The trouble is that prolonged periods of time spent viewing digital devices can lead to problems with your eyes and vision. One issue that can occur is digital eyestrain.
What is digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain is sometimes called digital eye fatigue or computer vision syndrome. However, all names refer to the same symptoms, which are typically experienced after spending long periods of time using a digital device. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a computer or laptop, but could also be a cell phone, tablet, e-reader or even video games played on a television via a console.
But what makes viewing digital devices so much worse for our eyes and vision than looking at printed items or the world around us? There are several key differences.
Firstly, the distance at which we view items on a digital screen is a little awkward. We don’t use our distance vision, but equally the device is usually too far away to use our near vision. So, our eyes are placed under strain as we spend a long period of time focusing on a middle distance. We may also crick our neck and shoulders at odd angles while we work, we can contribute towards digital eyestrain as well as back pain.
Secondly, the letters and colors on digital devices are rarely precisely defined and clear, which means that our eyes have to work extra hard to focus on them. This tends to mean that we blink less often too, causing our eyes to dry out and feel stiff and tired.
Finally, blue light, glare, and reflections from the screen can make viewing difficult and subconsciously mess with our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), which can cause sleep problems, mood swings, concentration problems, and more.
Eyestrain, headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and excessive fatigue are all common symptoms associated with digital eyestrain. However, how severely you are affected will depend on the level of your visual ability as well as how much time you spend looking at digital screens.
How can I reduce my risk of digital eye strain?
Fortunately, there are a variety of different methods you can use to reduce your risk of experiencing eyestrain, and we strongly recommend that you use some of these techniques if you regularly spend many hours each day using digital devices.
Some of the most effective techniques include:
20/20/20 rule. Many eye doctors recommend that anyone spending prolonged periods of time using digital devices follow the 20/20/20 rule. This is where you look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. This lets your eyes adjust and focus on something at a different distance, enabling them to relax and move around freely.
Consider your positioning. Unsurprisingly, the angle and distance at which you view your digital device play an important role in reducing digital eye strain. Most people find it easier and more comfortable to view a computer screen when their eyes are looking slightly downwards – ideally 15-20 degrees below eye level. Your screen should also be between 20 and 28 inches from your eyes. If glare is a big problem where you spend most of your time using digital devices, consider changing your seating position or investing in an anti-glare screen.
Sit comfortably. Many of us are guilty of slouching when we use digital devices, but we could be inadvertently contributing to our digital eyestrain. This is because our position places additional strain on our neck, shoulders, and head which can filter through to our eyes. Instead, we should try and maintain proper posture as much as possible. Consider investing in a good office chair that is adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor and your arms rest at right angles on the desk when typing.
Blink regularly. Blinking is a subconscious habit, but we automatically blink less when we use digital devices. This means that tear film isn’t being spread properly across the surface of the eyes, causing them to feel dry, dehydrated, and sore. Instead, try and focus on blinking regularly to help keep your eyes moist and comfortable.
Invest in a blue light filter. Blue light blocking filters are great at stopping a huge amount of artificial blue light from your digital devices, enabling you to avoid many of the symptoms and the potential damage that can be caused by failing to control the amount of artificial blue light we are exposed to.
Need more tips on stopping digital eyestrain? Don’t hesitate to speak to our dedicated eye care experts at Progressive Ophthalmology. Call 718-565-2020 today!