Computer eyestrain & what to do about it
Don’t let eye pain from computer use hinder your daily productivity
A recent study concluded that the average American spends approximately 10 hours in front of varying types of electronic screens every day. This includes computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.
The use of electronic devices is a new fact of life. You are, after all, reading this information on a screen! While we can’t change the fact that this is the new way we share information, we CAN take action to restore & maintain our eye health despite modern obstacles.
How to know if your eyes are strained from screen use
Screen time is so prevalent nowadays that it can be difficult to know that our eyes are strained in the first place. If you spend more than a few hours in front of a screen each day without making a conscious effort to combat eyestrain, you very likely may be experiencing symptoms without even knowing it.
Computer eye strain signs & symptoms include:
- Sore shoulders, neck or back
- Tension headaches
- Light & sound sensitivity
- Tired, achy or itchy eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Heavy eyelids
How to ease eye strain from screen time
Once you determine the pain or fatigue you’re feeling is related to eye strain symptoms, there are steps you can take to combat the side effects.
Schedule regular eye exams
It’s always best to talk to an optometrist when experiencing any kind of eye-related pain. What you think is just tired eye could be side effects from needing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Scheduling regular eye exams will help to keep your eyes healthy & give you peace of mind.
Adjust display settings
Most people just leave their computer or smartphone screens on manufacturer settings before they start using them. It’s important to adjust the backlight settings to a level that produces less stress for your eyes. Lower the brightness to match that of the room you’re working in. You can also adjust the contrast & text size for the most comfortable settings for you. It’s also smart to increase your screen’s color setting. Blue light makes it difficult for the eyes to adjust, so the warmer the better!
Be conscious of blinking
When we stare at a screen for an extended period of time, we blink about 1/3 less than we do otherwise. And even when we do blink, studies show that our eyes don’t close as tightly as they normally would. Blinking is what lubricates our eyes, so a lack of blinking leads to dry, itchy eyes. Talk to your optometrist about getting artificial tears to relieve dry eye symptoms if you feel like you’re not blinking enough during the day.
Perform eye exercises
One of the best things you can do to take care of your body is exercise. The same thing goes for your eyes! Sitting & staring at the computer for an extended period of time is the equivalent to lounging on the couch all day. It’s just not healthy. Luckily, in addition to proper nutrition, there are exercises you can do to keep your eyes healthy & avoid eye fatigue:
- The 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something 20 feet away & stare at it for at least 20 seconds. This helps your eyes take a necessary rest every now & then.
- Focus near & far. Gaze at an object far away for 10-20 seconds, then close up for 10-20 seconds, then repeat 10 times. This helps your eye muscles learn to focus more efficiently.
- Eye rolls. Start by looking to the lower left, roll your eyes in an upward arc over to the right & repeat until you return to the other side. You can also roll in a full circle, as if you’re following a clock. Repeat 15-20 times. This helps with focus & can heal blurred or double vision.