All this time staring at a screen can be tough on our eyes. It is not just our work or school laptops contributing to eye strain – our smartphones and tablets. According to the New York Post:
“Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes – burying their heads in their phones 80 times a day, according to new research.”
Many Americans experience some form of Computer Vision Syndrome, which leads to headaches, dry eyes, and even blurred vision. Now more than ever, people working from home and social distancing should develop healthy screen habits to protect their eyes from digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome affect as many as 90% of adults or anyone who spends at least two hours in front of a screen each day. As education utilizes available technology and the availability of phones and tablets becomes more prevent, digital eye strain is becoming more common in children. Some of the symptoms and effects include:
- Eye fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Problems focusing
- Dry eyes and irritation
These symptoms can become worse and more prolonged with time. The longer you stare at a screen without a break, the less you blink, which contributes to the strain on your eyes. There are, however, steps you can take to correct digital eye strain.
How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain
Much of the prevention of eye strain comes with your workspace and habits. If you practice poor posture and demand your eyes focus on a screen for hours at a time, you will likely develop some version of computer vision syndrome. Some steps for protecting your eyes include:
- Take frequent breaks. Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20-feet away for at least 20 seconds. Furthermore, get up from your desk every hour for at least five minutes; however, do not stare at your phone or tablet during this break.
- Text Size. Though you want to fit everything on one screen, it is better for your eyes to increase your computer’s text size.
- Minimize Glare: If your computer screen has a glare, turn it away from the light or window.
- Practice Posture: Make sure your posture supports your efforts by centering your computer screen or laptop in front of you, about an arms-length away, and just below your natural eye level. Sit up straight and use a good chair as well.
- Reduce the Light: Do not sit in the dark but try to reduce the amount of overhead and side-to-side light.
- Listen to Your Eye Doctor: If your optometrist has additional tips, follow their advice.
When Eye Strain is More than Staring at a Screen
Your eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision might be caused by something other than computer screens and phones. It could be related to your vision changing or developing eye disease. When was the last time you had an eye exam? At Asheville Vision Associates, we will perform comprehensive tests that are based on your needs. We will look for:
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Pigment Density
- Dry Eyes
- Corneal Irritation
- Blind Spots
- Color Vision or Color Blindness
- Crossed Eyes or "Lazy" Eyes in Children
- Visual Acuity
You should have your eyes examined at least annually, even if you have 20/20 vision. If it is time for you to have a professional optometrist perform an eye exam, contact Asheville Vision Associates. We would be happy to help with everything from eye strain to how to change your nutrition to promote eye health. We are your trusted optometrists in the Asheville area.