How screen time affects your eyesight + best ways to help
You’ve been there.
You’re in the middle of a workday, going on hour five of staring at a computer screen. Slowly but surely, your eyes have started to ache. They feel strained and dry, they’re causing a serious headache and blurred vision. You can’t focus anymore and the pain is even starting to creep into your neck and lower back muscles.
You know exactly what’s causing your eye strain. It doesn’t happen on the weekends when you’re out with friends, or when you’ve enjoyed a nice day outside. All that screen time is affecting the way you feel.
About 59% of adults in the United States who use screens for more than two hours in a day, report experiencing something called digital eye strain. But, what does that mean?
Digital eye strain is sometimes referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, but both of them describe the same symptoms of eye and vision related problems that result from prolonged screen usage (this could be computers, laptops, cell phones or tablets). Likely, the more time you spend staring at a screen, the more severe your symptoms become.
Why Do Screens Cause Eye Pain?
Digital eye strain can manifest itself in a few different ways:
– eye strain
– blurred vision
– dry eyes
– neck pain
– shoulder pain
So why does it occur? What about the screen makes your eyes fatigued and strained? There are a few possibilities:
– poor lighting
– glare on a digital screen
– improper viewing distances
– poor posture
– uncorrected vision problems
– combination of those factors
Odds are, the pain will probably go away after a few hours spent screen-free. If they don’t, it could be an indication of a more severe problem, like uncorrected astigmatism, farsightedness, eye coordination problems, or aging changes of the eye. If problems persist when you’re not using screens, you should call and schedule an appointment with an eye doctor.
If you’re pretty confident it’s digital eye strain, we have good news — no studies yet indicate that it causes long-term damage for your eyes. However, we still suggest you see an eye care specialist who can help treat your symptoms and make your screen-filled days a little more comfortable.
How is Digital Eye Strain Diagnosed?
At Brill Eye Center, comprehensive eye exams are completed to diagnose Computer Vision Syndrome and Digital Eye Strain. This may include collecting a detailed patient history and questions about computer usage, work habits and screen time. We will also test your visual acuity to determine the extent to which your eyes have been affected by screens.
Next we do what’s called a refraction to determine the exact prescription of your eye and the corresponding spectacle or contact lens power that is needed for you to see great. We want to make sure the lens is powered precisely to compensate for any refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
Comprehensive eye tests will be done to ensure a clear image of what’s going on. Your eyes should be working together and focusing effectively, and these tests will help determine if your eyes are experiencing issues to the contrary.
How Can I Prevent Digital Eye Strain?
While computers have been around for decades, the amount of time people are spending with their eyes fixed on a screen is at an all time high. Whether it’s time spent in front of a desktop at work, using a smart phone to make a purchase, or mindlessly scrolling on social media as a means for relaxation — we’ve all been there and our eyes may not be thanking us for it.
If you’ve been battling symptoms like headaches, eye strain, blurred vision or dry eyes — screen time may be affecting your vision more than you realize. But, all hope is not lost.
With preventative eye care solutions, your vision doesn’t have to suffer.
Step 1. Talk to Brill Eye Center
At Brill Eye Center, we believe that everyone can improve their work performance and comfort on a computer with the right professional help. And, that’s where we come in. Since preventative care is foundational to our practice, we strive to provide the best possible solutions to not only treat existing vision symptoms, but help prevent symptoms from worsening or surfacing at all.
If you’re ready to reach out, we’re ready to help. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation!
Step 2. Get a YEARLY Comprehensive Eye Exam
Our eye care professionals are well-versed in helping individuals who are suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain. We’ve found that the best and most productive place to start is with a comprehensive eye exam. Once you go through the exam, we can then determine how much your eyes have been affected by screen time and what additional steps need to be taken to resolve the underlying issue. Improving the quality of your vision is our number one goal.
It doesn’t stop there though. Much like going to the dentist, or getting a check-up at the doctor; we recommend yearly comprehensive exams to ensure your vision is performing optimally.
Step 3. Find a Product that Works for You
Today, there are products you can get that have been scientifically tested and proven to help increase the clarity of vision. These products include glasses and contact lenses specifically designed for consistent computer use.
At Brill Eye Center, we have several options available to improve and prevent digital eye strain.
We can prescribe you specialized computer progressive spectacle lenses that are meant for the computer working distance which is generally 16 to 24 inches. We also have multifocal contact lenses or monovision contact lenses that can enhance your computer vision and make the small print appear big, crisp, and clear. For full protection against harmful blue light, we can prescribe you with special blue light blocking lenses designed by BluTech. Unlike some brands that alter the way you see color, BluTech gives you “full protection [and] real color,” while providing superior visual relief and comfort throughout the day.
When it comes to choosing the right product for your “everyday,” you’ll want to consider the tasks of your job, your work environment and maybe even your age. Could it be the right time to start looking into the benefits of progressive lenses? Shamir Workspace offers a great solution with a high quality lens that seeks to make your workday as comfortable and efficient as possible.
The Brill Eye Difference
Our team at Brill Eye Center is driven to provide you with unmatched, preventative eye care that keeps YOU and your vision’s performance at top of mind. We’ll work together to provide you with the solutions you need for long-lasting, healthy vision.
Contact us to learn more and be a part of the Brill Eye Difference today!
Here are a few other basic steps you can take to help prevent digital eye strain:
Download a Blue Filter App
While we’d like to encourage you to limit your screen time, we understand how difficult it can be in today’s world. You likely use a computer at work, read books on your tablet and catch up with friends on mobile devices. The good news is, when it comes to our mobile devices (like tablets and cellphones), technology has already caught up to the negative effects of screens on our eyes. There are a number of apps you can download that will filter your screen in order to reduce glare, especially at night! So, text time you’re scrolling through Twitter before you fall asleep, try the blue filter app!
Hint: if you’re an iPhone user, Apple has already responded to the digital eye strain problem. Now, you can turn on the Night Shift feature — no app needed!
We know this sounds silly, but studies show that blinking frequency is significantly reduced when people are using electronics. We typically blink 12-15 times per minute, but when we’re staring at screens, that number is reduced to seven or eight times per minute. Blinking lubricates your eyes with a thin layer of tears, so when you blink less, you’re more likely to experience temporary dry eye or discomfort.
Check Your Surroundings
The way you look at your computer screen can actually change how bad digital eye strain is affecting you. Typically, people find it more comfortable to view a screen that is 15-20 degrees below their eye level. Try tilting your screen down or raising your chair and see if that helps.
Additionally, lighting can also have an effect on your comfort. If your work space is flexible, try to position your screen away from overhead lighting or windows in order to avoid glare. If your work space is not flexible, you can also purchase anti-glare screens that decrease the amount of light reflected from your computer.
Take a Break
While eliminating screens from your life isn’t a realistic way to deal with eye strain, we do suggest taking small breaks throughout the day to let your eyes reset! Every few hours, take a 15 minute break by doing something off-screen or looking at something that is located further away. For continuous computer usage, try looking away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to keep your eyes healthy and feeling good.