Whether on a phone, laptop or TV, it’s estimated that Americans spend five hours or more each day looking at a digital screen. Excessive screen time can cause digital eye strain, a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of digital devices. According to the American Optometric Association, 2 out of 3 Americans reported experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain, with 80% of children between 10 and 17 having reported experiencing one or more related symptoms of digital eye strain after using a digital device.
Read on to learn more about digital eye strain and how you can prevent it to help maintain healthy vision and protect your eye health.
Causes of digital eye strain
Digital eye strain is caused by prolonged periods of staring at digital screens, such as computer monitors, smartphones, tablets and televisions. The following factors contribute to the development of digital eye strain.
- Blue light: Digital devices emit blue light, which is a type of high-energy visible (HEV) light. Exposure to blue light for extended periods can lead to eye strain, fatigue and discomfort.
- Poor lighting in your workspace: Poor lighting conditions can make it difficult for your eyes to focus on the screen, leading to eye strain and headaches.
- Viewing distance: Sitting too close or too far away from the screen can cause eye strain and discomfort.
- Poor ergonomics: Bad posture and inadequate viewing angles can also contribute to digital eye strain.
- Reduced blinking: When we focus on a digital screen, we tend to blink less, which can lead to dry, irritated eyes.
Common symptoms of digital eye strain include:
- Eye fatigue
- Burning or itching eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sore neck, back or shoulders
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
How to prevent digital eye strain
Try some of these techniques to prevent digital eye strain during your school or work day.
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, look 20 feet into the distance in front of you for at least 20 seconds.
- Blink often: Whenever you’re looking at a screen for an extended period of time, make an effort to blink more than usual to help moisten and refresh your eyes.
- Adjust your monitor: When working on a computer or laptop, make sure your monitor is at least an arm’s length in front of you so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level.
- Take frequent breaks: For every hour you are working or studying on a screen, take a 10 to 15 minute break to reduce eye fatigue and headache, as well as help maintain healthy posture.
By taking steps to prevent digital eye strain, you can help keep your eyes healthy and maintain your vision for years to come.