We all know the feeling. We’re on our computer all day at work, check our phones throughout the day, and head home to lounge on the couch to watch TV. It’s been found that 60% of people use digital devices for 5 or more hours per day. Our eyes get so tired and strained because of this that we’re often at our wits end by the time we get into our car to drive home!
Unfortunately, this eye strain (also known as asthenopia, computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain) is only becoming more prevalent. You can blame this eye fatigue on many things, but the combination of long hours on the computer, tiny iPhone screens, and our constant need for social interaction are doing our eyes no favors.
Symptoms of digital eye strain are many and they include tired eyes, eye irritation and pain, headaches, blurred or double vision, light sensitivity, trouble focusing, dry and burning eyes, shoulder pain, and possibly others. Whew! Each of these symptoms may vary between patients and affect patients differently. As you can see, dry eyes definitely play a role in this prevalent problem and can only make the situation worse.
Thankfully, although there are many causes of digital eye strain, there are also solutions to help increase comfort throughout your day. While it is entirely possible that we are just spending too much time in front of screens, it is also possible that it is the actual device causing the problem. Screen size is a biggy. Although we are able to increase the size of most text on our smartphones, computers, and the like, we often do not! This means we are constantly focusing on tiny print and stressing our eyes. Increase that text size and consider speaking with your eye doctor about computer bifocals for easier focusing up close.
Posture is another problem that needs to be addressed. I don’t know about you, but I always find myself hunched over my screen when I’m concentrating on something. This is terrible for your back, neck, and shoulders which increases headaches and strain on the eyes. Establishing an ergonomic work environment is critical. Stand-up desks are great, but at the very least you need to make sure your back and neck are upright while viewing the screen. Finding a new, more supportive chair can help as well.
Another important factor to consider is how often you blink. When we are focused on a task, especially up close, we blink our eyes less often and we also blink incompletely. This causes our tear film to dry out and increases symptoms of dry eye! I encourage you to pay attention to your blinking while you work. Easier said than done, but it can make a huge difference. Also, practice the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away from your computer for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes time to relax and be ready for the next task.
These are just a few tips, aside from using lubricating eye drops, that can help improve comfort while working on digital devices all day. What have you tried? Have you found anything to be incredibly helpful? Let us in on your eye strain secrets!