Digital Eye Strain. It’s really just a fancy term for eye discomfort or vision issues that result from looking at digital screens for an extended period of time. Viewing a computer or digital screen is not the same as viewing a printed page – glare and reflections on the screen, reduced level of contrast between the letters and the background, and the fact that letters on a computer are not as sharply defined as letters on a printed page make viewing more difficult.
Symptoms you might notice if you’re dealing with digital eye strain include headaches, tired eyes, blurred vision, or dry eyes. These symptoms tend to be worse as the day goes on and you’ve spent more time on the computer.
In some cases, simple changes to how you view your computer can make a big difference in your symptoms.
- Location of the computer screen: Most people find viewing most comfortable when they are looking slightly down. The center of your computer screen should be about 4-5 inches below eye level and 20-28 inches from your eyes is the optimal distance your monitor should be away from you.
- Lighting: Position your computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lights or windows.
- Rest breaks: Implement the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look 20 feet away from your computer and into the distance for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes from getting stuck in “near mode” – when your eyes stay focused close up for long periods it can be difficult to adjust to distance vision.
- Blinking: Our blink rate is more than cut in half when we do any sustained task, including being on the computer all day. As simple as it sounds, being mindful to blink frequently will go a long way in helping your eyes from drying out.
In other cases changes to how you view your devices may not be quite enough. Specialty glasses and contacts can make a big difference in digital eye strain symptoms.
- Computer glasses: Even if you already wear glasses full time, often a separate pair of glasses just for the computer can help significantly with symptoms of digital eye strain. Asking one pair of glasses to meet all of our visual needs is like asking one pair of shoes to meet all the demands of your life – from working out to going to the office, etc. – a little unrealistic. Computer glasses are specifically designed for viewing at computer distance. Often we make them not only with the correct prescription for computer viewing, but also with a shorter viewing distance for seeing reference material and papers on your desk that do not sit as far away as the computer monitor. There are many different options for computer glasses and your optometrist can help you determine the best solution for your visual needs.
- Blue Light Filters: Blue light filters are another enhancement that can be added to any pair of glasses – computer glasses or your full time pair. Blue light is a very hot topic right now. We know that blue light is damaging to your retinas, however, the jury is still out on whether you get enough blue light from computer use to be damaging or to contribute to digital eye strain. There is a particular blue light filter that we rely on a lot called the Eyezen lens. This lens not only blocks blue light but also has a specially placed boost of prescription that relieves eye strain on the computer.
- Contacts: There are also contact lenses specifically designed to address digital eye fatigue. These lenses work by allowing you to shift focus from on screen to off screens with less effort. Eight out of ten patients who try these contact lenses agree they help their eyes feel less tired.
No matter the severity of your symptoms, the doctors of Missouri Eye Consultants are here to discuss the best solution for you. Schedule an appointment today to talk more about digital eye fatigue and the best option to meet your specific needs.