After spending long periods of time staring at screens for the better part of the day, do you ever feel it in your eyes? It’s not just you – digital eye strain is a real condition, and it’s only getting worse now that more people are spending increasing amounts of time working from computers, staring down at smartphones, watching so much TV, and playing lots of video games.
According to The Vision Council, about 93 percent of adults spend more than two hours a day using a digital device, and 60 percent of adults spend five or more hours with a device every day. A research study that examined the tear fluid from office workers had undergone physiological changes comparable to people who suffer from dry eye diseases, suggesting that those who spend a large part of their day working from a computer are at a higher risk of experiencing digital eye strain.
If you’re a screen junkie who suffers from eyes that are dry, red, irritated, tired, or are causing you to experience blurred vision and headaches, it’s time to consider scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor to talk about your digital screen habits and have your eyes checked if you’re due for a checkup. In the meantime, there are a few adjustments you can make right away that can help bring you some much needed relief.
1. Make sure you’re seated properly and your screen is at a proper distance.
Digital eye strain doesn’t just affect your eyes – it can cause neck and back pain too. If you’re sitting at a desk with a computer, make sure your chair helps you sit upright with good support of your spine. Your screen should be at about an arm’s length away from your face. If it’s a smartphone you’re looking at, hold it at an angle slightly below eye level that doesn’t cause you to tilt your head downward.
2. Adjust the brightness on your screen.
Many computers and devices automatically adjust their brightness for the amount of light they detect, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Trying lowering the brightness manually, or consider installing an application like f.lux, which is designed to lower the brightness according to what time of day it is and eliminate that “eerie blue glow” by changing the color of your computer’s display.
3. Shift your eyes to stare at something else every 20 minutes.
The longer you go without taking a break from staring at a screen, the higher your chances are of straining your eyes. Set a timer to take a break every 20 minutes. All you need to do is look away at something else for at least 20 seconds. Remember to blink a few times too!
4. Set your display settings to be enlarged for easier viewing.
Are you trying to read or type text that’s too small to see? If you find yourself squinting at everything or trying to bring your face closer to the screen, it’s time to adjust your text display settings to appear larger. Most major web browsers have settings for this, and even your smartphone operating system should have it too.
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5. Eliminate screen glare.
Not only is it annoying to see a reflection in the screen you’re trying to look at, it’s also just terrible for your eyes. If closing the curtains or moving to a different spot doesn’t cut it, you should consider investing in an anti-glare screen for your computer monitor.
6. Minimize screen time before bed.
Digital screens emit a short-wavelength visible blue light that cause more strain on the eyes. It also mimics natural light, and confuses your brain into think that it’s daytime when you spend too much time at night in front of blue light. It’s exactly why so many people have trouble sleeping after watching too much TV or looking at their phones so close to bedtime. Aim to shut everything off at least an hour before you turn in.
7. Invest in a good pair of anti-glare or blue light-blocking glasses.
If you already own a pair of reading glasses with anti-glare coating, then you should be wearing them while starting at any screens. They’ll make a big difference. You can ask for lenses specifically made for use with devices. Another option is to get a pair of glasses that are yellow or amber tinted, which work to balance and block blue light from reaching your eyes. Perfect if you just can’t say no to screen time before bed!
Obviously, the ultimate solution to avoiding digital eye strain completely is to just cut way back on the time you spend in front of screens entirely, which isn’t just good for your eyes, but good for your overall health too. Try to take some time to unplug and enjoy a screen-free day every week if you can.
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