From the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed, more and more of us are on our smartphones, tablets, computers or other digital devices. That’s a lot of eyeballs glued to a lot of screens.
If you count yourself among the 90% of adults who spend two or more hours a day in front of a screen of some sort, there’s something you should know: You could be putting yourself at risk for digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.
It’s a problem that is occurring more and more frequently — even in kids.
Symptoms may include dry, red and irritated eyes, fatigue, eye strain, blurry vision, problems focusing, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.
Digital eye strain — more common than you think
When spending long periods of time concentrating on digital devices, the blink rate may be reduced by up to 66% on average, resulting in dry, itchy or burning eye.
Other factors include the size of the font, your posture, your computer set-up, and the amount of blue light emitted from your screen.
Take steps to protect your eyes now
The good thing is that if your screen habits put you at risk for digital eye strain, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your eyes.
- Build a workspace that promotes good posture. Center your computer screen at arms-length and slightly below eye level. This helps you keep your back straight, and helps you maintain a proper distance from your screen.
- Position your screen to minimize glare. Do not tilt it upward.
- Some eye doctors recommend investing in computer eyewear with an anti-reflective lens that can also be combined with a specially formulated coating that blocks and selectively absorbs blue light.
- Follow the 20/20/20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
- Adjust the brightness of your device. Consider changing the background color from bright white to cool gray.
- Lessen the amount of overhead light and surrounding light competing with your device’s screen.
- Increase text size to make it easier to read.
- Don’t forget to blink. Blinking lubricates your eyes so they stay moist and healthy.
- If you have children, consider limiting their screen time, and reducing your own screen time to set a healthy example.
Talk to your eye care professional if you think you’re at risk
While it would be ideal to cut down the amount of time you spend in front of a screen each day, it’s not always realistic. Let your eye care professional know if you are on digital devices excessively. Especially if you wear contact lenses.
If you’re at a screen more often than not, and you wear contact lenses, be sure to talk to your eye doctor about which lenses are best for you.