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How to Stop Digital Eye Strain

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A man rubbing his eyes due to digital eye strain from his computer

The long hours of work you put in while sitting in front of a computer screen or browsing your phone add up in today’s world. Digital eye strain can be the result and leave your eyes in a weary state. Your optometrist will have all the treatments and tips lined up for you, but digital eye strain can appear at any moment.

Let’s explore digital eye strain, the symptoms, risk factors, and how to treat and stop it.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, can appear when you’re working on a digital screen such as your phone or computer screen for a prolonged period. Your daily workday may consist of staring at your computer screen, so it’s essential to give yourself a break.

Some common symptoms to look out for with digital eye strain include: 

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain

When these symptoms start to show themselves, it’s important to give yourself a break. Some other factors that can make your eyestrain worse include: 

  • Bad lighting
  • Glare on a digital screen
  • Improper viewing angle
  • Poor posture when sitting
  • Uncorrected vision problems

Your optometrist must diagnose digital eye strain through a comprehensive eye exam. During this test, your optometrist will emphasize visual requirements at the computer or digital device working distance. 

While digital eye strain doesn’t have serious long-term consequences, it can be aggravating and unpleasant to deal with in the moment, especially if you’re trying to concentrate. 

A woman taking off her glasses and rubbing her eyes due to digital eye strain

Preventing Digital Eye Strain

Once digital eye strain appears, you’ll want to treat and manage it as soon as possible. There are several management techniques you can try starting with the 20/20/20 method.

20/20/20 Method

The 20/20/20 method works as a rule to combat digital eye strain. Every 20 minutes spent using a screen—you should look away at something 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds. 

Your eyes take about 20 seconds to relax, and giving yourself this break can also allow you to get up and take a break from your computer screen. 

Building up this habit can take time but can work against digital eye strain.

Position Your Screen

The position of your screen can play a role in how digital eye strain affects you. Making sure you look at your digital device from the correct distance and in the proper position can save you some grief. 

Reducing the glare on your monitor can help, and if you need to enlarge the text for your comfort, don’t hesitate to do so. 

Take Frequent Breaks When Possible

Sometimes, you forget to take a break when you get in a groove, leading to digital eye strain. If you’re able to step away from your computer and make phone calls or photocopies, or even mingle with coworkers, that can have a positive effect on reducing eyestrain. 

Any alternate activity that can give your eyes a break for a short period of time can help.

Eye Drops

Eye drops can be a quick fix to help rehydrate tired eyes, but you should consult your optometrist before committing to any over-the-counter eye drops. Some ingredients may not cooperate with certain eye types and prescriptions. 

Remember to Blink Often

Getting lost in your work sometimes means focusing intently, and sometimes people blink less when working. 

Blinking often produces the necessary tears and lubrication to moisten and refresh your eyes. Building up a good blinking habit when working hard can help prevent digital eye strain. 

A few tweaks to your digital usage can help curve digital eye strain and keep your eyes fresh.

Protecting Your Eyes

Digital eye strain can be a part of everyday life, with the digital component more prevalent than ever. The most effective thing you can do is practice healthy prevention methods and work on those habits to prevent digital eye strain. 

Book an appointment with your optometrist today if your symptoms don’t seem to be lessening, and you want more assistance with your digital eye strain. 

Written by Dr. Randy Griffin

Dr. Randy Griffin completed his schooling and joined the practice in 1983. “Dr. Randy” is a graduate of San Clemente High School, the University of Santa Clara, and the Southern College of Optometry, as well as an American Board of Optometry Diplomate. He has served on a peer review committee for a west coast vision insurance plan, helping establish guidelines, policies, and procedures for other eye care professionals. Additionally, Dr. Randy has served as a training consultant for a major pharmaceutical company and a board member for a local laser vision clinic since 1997.
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