As the world is becoming more digital, more people than ever are finding themselves spending increasing amounts of time in front of screens - whether computer, tablet or smartphone.
In fact, more than 9 out of 10 adults spend over 2 hours a day using a digital device of some kind, with more than 6 out of 10 clocking in at over 5 hours of screen time.
As a result, these adults are being affected by a wide range of health problems related to the use of digital devices.
This blog post will address one health issue in particular that we are seeing increasingly here at Charlottetown Vision Clinic: digital eye strain.
What is digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain is eye discomfort felt after spending two or more hours in front of a screen. It is associated with the close to mid-range distance of these screens to the eyes.
A significant contributor to digital eye strain is the reduction in blink rates: that is, when you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, you blink less. This can result in dryness, itchiness, and a burning sensation in the eyes.
People whose jobs require them to spend significant time in front of computer screens tend to feel the effects of digital eye strain the most. A 2014 study has found that office workers with computer-centric jobs undergo changes in tear fluid similar to that of people with dry eye disease. It actually creates a physiological change.
What can you do to avoid digital eye strain?
If you’re someone who has a computer-oriented job, or who spends a lot of time in front of computer screens in general, you are at a risk of developing digital eye strain.
Fortunately, though, there are tools you can use and steps you can takes to avoid it.
To accommodate the more screen-oriented way people are living their lives these days, the optical industry has developed special lenses that limit the amount of blue light that penetrates the eye. They also prevent the vision fatigue caused by prolonged use of digital devices using ant-reflective materials and different types of filters.
These lenses are specifically designed to optimize vision while viewing content on screens.
Proper lighting to minimize glare
Eye strain can occur when bright lights glare off of computer screens and reflect back into your eyes. It can help to eliminate exterior light by closing blinds or drapes and to eliminate interior light by using fewer bulbs and light sources.
Take regular breaks
It can be very easy to become absorbed in your work, and not budge from behind your screen for hours on end. But your eyes - not to mention the rest of your body - need breaks.
So get out from behind your desk as often as you can. Step outside, take a short walk, or just stop what you’re doing and remove your eyes from your screen for a few minutes once an hour or so. Be sure to blink!