Screen strain, also known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain, is a condition that results from prolonged use of digital devices, such as computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Screen strain has become increasingly common as the use of digital devices has become more widespread. A recent study shows that over 60% of Americans suffer from digital eye strain. Luckily, there are ways to protect your eyes from screen strain. In this article, we will discuss the impact of blue light from screens on our eyes. We will also review some symptoms of screen strain and how to combat it.
Causes of Screen Strain
The prolonged use of digital devices, such as computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, causes screen strain, also known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. The leading causes of screen strain include screen time, poor lighting, and poor posture. Blue light from many screens and devices causes the most strain on the digital eye. Constant exposure to blue light is associated with retinal damage and macular degeneration.
Symptoms of Screen Strain
Computer vision syndrome is characterized by various symptoms, including eye fatigue, headaches, dry or red eyes, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, and more. When looking at screens, we actually blink less often than normal. This causes eye fatigue, dry eyes, red eyes, and blurred vision. The blue light emitted from computer screens also often triggers headaches. These symptoms are caused by the strain on the eyes when they are focused on a screen for long periods, often in less-than-ideal lighting conditions and with poor posture.
There are several ways to prevent digital eye strain and reduce its symptoms.
- The 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes and look away from the screen for 20 seconds, focusing on something 20 feet away. This allows your eyes to refocus and take a break.
- Regular breaks and stretching. Get up from your desk regularly and stretch to relieve neck, shoulders, and eye tension. This is also a great opportunity to take a quick walk and exercise.
- Adjust screen settings. Reducing screen brightness and increasing text size can reduce the strain on your eyes. Many devices have a color temperature setting, allowing you to put a reddish tint on your screen to block some blue light.
- Proper lighting and device placement. Make sure your workspace is well-lit. Place your computer screen perpendicular to any windows in your space to reduce glare. Finally, ensure the top of your computer screen is just below your line of sight to ease pressure on your neck.
- Wearing computer glasses. Wear glasses designed for computer use to reduce glare and block blue light. “Blue light glasses” come in various styles and have varying degrees of filtering. The more yellow or red the lenses, the more blue light is filtered.
- Blink regularly. Blink frequently to keep your eyes lubricated and reduce dryness. This does mean you may have to remind yourself to blink sometimes.
- Set up an ergonomic workspace. Make sure to sit up straight, adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, and position your screen so you do not have to tilt your head to look at it.
By incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, you can help prevent digital eye strain and protect your eyes from the negative effects of prolonged screen use.
Treatment for Screen Strain
Sometimes, eye strain is unavoidable. A recent Pew study found that over 80% of Americans get their daily news from a digital device, implying that digital devices are pervasive in our culture. Additionally, more than 27 million people were working from home at the end of 2021, so their screen time was immense. Luckily, there are a few home remedies for eye strain.
Resting your eyes at the end of the day and periodically throughout the day can relieve any pain or discomfort you are experiencing in your head and neck. Use artificial tears to lubricate the eyes when you are blinking less often. This treats both dry and red eyes. Taking a break from screens altogether may be necessary if you are feeling chronic eye strain.
If these remedies do not improve your eye strain over a period, consider visiting your eye doctor or primary care provider for additional help and care.
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