Everyone spends time in front of their computers or smartphones or tablet screens. You have to have your eyes on one of those screens right now to be able to read this article! The world continues to become more and more digital, but what does that mean for our eyes?
According to the Vision Council report Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma, a study of 10,000 American participants showed that 65 percent were suffering from digital eye strain. A high percentage, sure, but we live in a society where everything we could possibly want is only a click away, making it hard to break away from our screen use habits.
Despite the beautiful abundance of knowledge and information available online, most of us remain completely in the dark about digital eye strain.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain, otherwise known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is the result of excessive screen use. As its name suggests, this condition puts a lot of strain on the eyes causing physical discomfort. The strain can kick in as quickly as two hours into using your screen.
This includes all types of screens that emit blue light. Our eyes have evolved to process large amounts of natural light, but this artificial blue light is a whole different story. Studies have shown that it can lead to sleep problems, weight gain, and of course, eye strain.
This light is especially harmful in low light settings. Do you lie in bed before sleeping, scrolling through your emails or Facebook page on your smartphone or tablet? You’re not alone. The same Vision Council report found that 76 percent of Americans use a digital device an hour before retiring for the day.
The contrast of the dark room and bright screen puts strain on the eyes. Having to focus on the bright screen and small font can result in tired eyes that need to be relaxed. Like the rest of your body, your eyes need a break too.
How to Recognize Digital Eye Strain
If you think you may be suffering from digital eye strain, there are a few ways to tell:
1. You may find yourself squinting. Difficulty focusing is a common symptom of digital eye strain. The eye is so focused for so long without repose that it grows tired and loses focus.
2. You may experience headaches and excessive light sensitivity. As a result of this overworked eye, you may get headaches and become overly sensitive to bright lights. Sometimes the headaches can be brought on by the light sensitivity.
3. You may develop either dry or watery eyes. Either extreme in this case can be a symptom of digital eye syndrome.
4. You may get neck and shoulder pains. A result of sitting at the computer for long periods of time. Chances are if you get to the point of neck pains, your eyes are in just as much need of a break.
5. You may start seeing double. Have you ever been at a computer for so long that when you looked away everything looked fuzzy or like it was vibrating? This is a clear sign that you need to rest your eyes.
If you find that your digital eye strain is restricting you at work or in your daily routines, visit your eye doctor for information on how you can get your eyes back on track.
Who is at Risk?
Generally speaking, anyone who uses a digital device is at risk of developing digital eye strain. Those who use it excessively are at an even higher risk.
The Vision Council has reported that more than 90 percent of Americans use digital devices for more than two hours a day. This doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as most people have smartphone and a lot of jobs require long hours worked on a computer or laptop.
However those who are at most risk of digital eye strain are young adults under the age of 30, with a whopping 73 percent of participants under 30 experiencing digital eye strain symptoms. People who use multiple digital devices at one time are also more likely to have symptoms.
Protect Your Eyes
The best way to protect your eyes is to take the right steps towards preventing digital eye strain. This will help you sleep better, be more productive, avoid those pesky headaches, and above all, you’ll be on your way towards attaining optimal eye health.
The first thing you can do is eliminate as much of the blue light from your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This can be done very easily with blue light glasses or by installing a special filter. These filters will give your screens an orangey hue that’ll be easier on your eyes than the harsh blue lights.
The next thing you can do is, take a break! Yes, the best sentence in the English language. Get your eyes away from the screen, grab a snack, head over to the water cooler or maybe even wash some dishes while you’re at it.
Some other easy things you can do are to make sure your device is always at an arm’s length away; increase text size on your devices; wear the proper eyewear your eyes require; blink more often to keep the eyes moist.
Now that we’ve all had a taste of the digital age and everything it has to offer, it’s going to be difficult to cut back on its use. Unfortunately this is another thing you can do to reduce digital eye strain. Next time you want to read the news, try picking up a paper newspaper first. Read a book before bed or knit instead of using your digital device.
The Visual Council’s report has clearly proven that digital eye strain will only continue to affect more and more Americans until people decide to take care of their eyes. Digital devices are our friends not foes. Use them responsibly and avoid all the pain that comes with digital eye strain.