Are your devices causing you digital eye strain?

May 16, 2023

Have you noticed your eyes are more irritated and tired than usual? You’re definitely not the only one. For most of us, digital devices have a strong and growing presence in our lives.

Computers, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices with visual displays can all cause tired eyes and digital eye strain, referred to as ‘computer vision syndrome’.

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) describes eye and vision symptoms that might be experienced as a result of viewing digital devices with bright light for an extended period of time.

These symptoms can include eye strain, red or tired eyes, irritation, eye discomfort, blurred vision, double vision, vision problems, and headaches.

Why does screen time irritate the eyes?

For most of us, our eyes prefer to focus farther than six metres away, so viewing a computer screen or any digital device forces our eyes to work much harder than ideal.

While it’s normal for us to blink about 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink far less often while using digital devices, resulting in dry, scratchy, and red eyes.

Often, the type or font that we are viewing on a digital device can be small or unclear, and glare is emitted off the screen from the blue light. The frequency of blue light emitted from LED devices is also being researched for its long-term effects on the eye and potential impact on altering sleep cycles.

The combination of these unique characteristics and the high visual demands of digital technologies can make you susceptible to eye strain symptoms.

The extent to which people experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time they spend looking at a digital screen.

Extended periods of focusing on a digital screen result in the eye muscles having to exert significant focusing effort to make these objects clear. As with any of the muscles in the body, they can fatigue and tire out if not given the opportunity to rest and relax.

The eye muscles which control eye movements and focusing, are typically relaxed when we look at objects in the distance.


How to allow your eyes to rest and relax

In this digital age, we must remember to rest our eyes frequently. We should all apply the 20-20-20 rule when spending time on devices.

The 20-20-20 rule asks you to shift your focus to something other than your device every 20 minutes. What you focus on should be at least 20 feet (6 meters) away, and you should look at it for at least 20 seconds.

This is such a good healthy habit to build—taking breaks with a new focus on the benefits for your eyes is as easy as getting up and making a cup of tea, taking 5 minutes to walk out into the garden or the office balcony, starting those walking meetings, or just watching the clouds float by for a few minutes.

The 20-20-20 rule is one of the most important eye care tips for the whole family to adopt daily, whether you wear glasses or contact lenses or not, so our eyes can stay at their best for longer.

If you are experiencing eye strain or irritation, it is best to consult your optometrist to discuss the best treatment options for you. Book an appointment easily online today.