Protect Your Eyes from Screen Time
We use digital devices every day. Whether you’re working, relaxing, or keeping up with notifications, we spend a lot of time staring at screens. While digital devices can benefit our lives in many ways, prolonged screen time can lead to digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain (or computer vision syndrome) can cause vision problems and body discomfort. One of the most common eye problems caused by digital eye strain is dry eye, which can have severe long-term effects if untreated.
Our eye doctors can assess your eye health and recommend options for decreasing the risks of digital eye strain.
Assessing Digital Eye Strain
Our eye doctors can help diagnose your eye condition after a thorough eye exam. We will also discuss your symptoms, lifestyle, and digital screen use. Then, we can recommend treatment and help you improve your eye comfort.
Some lifestyle details we may need to know include:
- How many hours a day you use a computer or digital screen
- Your workstation setup (example: multiple screens, desk layout)
- Lighting available in your computer (or screen) area
- The distance between your eyes and your screen
Understanding your digital screen use, your eye health, and your symptoms can help us determine the best next steps. It can also help evaluate if digital eye strain is the main cause or if your discomfort results from additional vision problems.
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain is more than eye discomfort and can include various symptoms. The condition is common in adults and children, with 50–90% of computer users experiencing symptoms.
Prolonged screen time makes our eyes work harder. People with untreated myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, or presbyopia can find computer work even more challenging, as their eyes exert more effort to see the screen clearly.
When viewing a digital screen, our eyes move and frequently refocus to read or browse. Screen changes, including glare, flickers, and contrast, require our eyes to constantly readjust. Additionally, we blink less using computers, leading to dry eyes and blurry vision.
Digital eye strain symptoms include:
- Dry eye
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Eye strain
- Eye irritation
- Watery eyes
Treating Digital Eye Strain
With recommendations from our eye care team, patients can limit the risk of digital eye strain. Common treatment options for digital eye strain include adjusting your workspace, reducing screen time, updating prescriptions for vision, and improving eye nutrition.
Adjust Your Setup
Your environment can make a significant difference in how your eyes are able to adjust. Appropriate screen distance can improve visual comfort, whether you’re sitting at a desk or lying in bed. Position your screen about an arm’s length away and 20 degrees below eye level.
How you adjust screen colour and contrast will depend on your personal preferences and environmental lighting. Too dim or too bright lighting can contribute to eye strain, but you may need a few tries before you find what works best for you. In general, try to match screen brightness to your surroundings.
It’s also beneficial to keep your screen clean. Wiping away fingerprints and dust can make it easier for your eyes, instead of trying to see through external screen markings.
The 20-20-20 rule is a guideline for scheduling screen time breaks for better visual comfort. For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break. Look away from your screen and focus on an object 20 feet away.
It’s crucial to look away from your digital screen for at least 20 seconds, as that’s how long it takes for your eyes to relax completely. You can make it easier to remember the 20 minimum by setting a timer, walking away for a water break, or using the time to stretch.
Drink More Water
Dry eye is a common symptom of digital eye strain. Drinking more water can help you stay hydrated and support your tear film, as tears are 98% water. Using artificial tears can be helpful in adding temporary moisture, but consuming more water can benefit tear production long-term.
In addition to adding more water to your diet, you can support eye function with eye nutrition. Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation, helping to decrease eye irritation. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) support tear production to relieve symptoms of dry eye. Talk to our eye care team about how your diet can help your eye health!
Keep Prescriptions Up-to-Date
Untreated vision problems can affect visual comfort while using digital screens. Your prescription may seem functional for most tasks, until you notice vision problems during screen use. Additionally, wearing contact lenses can sometimes aggravate symptoms of digital eye strain.
Patients may need to update prescriptions or add filters to their eyewear, such as anti-reflective coating, to improve their visual comfort. There are also lenses optimized for computer use. If new lenses are right for you, we can recommend options after an eye exam.
We Can Help Treat Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain may be common, but symptoms should not be ignored. Avoiding screens can be challenging, and it may impact the quality of your life. Instead of cutting digital devices out of your life, our eye doctors can help you develop a personalized plan to support your sight and treat symptoms.
Book an appointment today for improved eye comfort.