C. Troy Allred, OD & Dr. Amanda Alves

A Recent Report Shows Nearly 70% of Americans Experience Digital Eye Strain.

Eye Condition

It’s also not decreasing, either, thanks to our love of the digital device. The fact is, our smart culture and always-connected society has consequences for our eye health. These consequences range from mild to uncomfortable, and often come on gradually.

A 2016 survey of more than 10,000 adults found that 65% displayed symptoms associated with digital eye strain. Annually, more than 10 million visits are made to eye doctors all over the country to diagnose and address digital eye strain. It’s becoming an increasingly large problem.

Chances are good that you have experienced digital eye strain first-hand.  Problems can range from physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors, to minor annoyances like eye twitching and red eyes.  

Do you experience any of the following when using digital devices?

  • Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes.
  • Watery or dry eyes.
  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Headache.
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open.

What Causes Digital Eye Strain in the First Place?

The simple answer is that our eyes were never designed to take the load we place on them. Modern technologies are pretty new (in terms of human physiological evolution timelines), and so the demands they place on our eyes are quite different than what our eyes were designed to handle.

Spending prolonged periods of times focusing on a singular point, like you do when you’re reading, can cause eye strain (and faster than you think). Reading a book for too long can cause eye strain symptoms, though reading a backlit display causes it much moreso.

Why Backlit Displays – Smartphones & Computer Monitors – Are Contributing Factors to Eye Strain

Before backlit displays came around, light sources typically directed light at what we were looking at. The Sun shines down from the sky, the overhead lights illuminate the room from above, and so on.

A digital display is projecting light directly into your face and eyes. Right now. As you are reading this (scary, right?).

Glare is also a problem. Glare makes it harder to read what you’re looking at on the screen, which causes you to start squinting (and tiring your eye focusing muscles in the process).

Finally, the light that your monitors are beaming towards your face is packed full of high-energy visible light (HEV) or “blue light.” HEV light is known to not only disrupt our sleep patterns, but also have physical impacts on our eyes.

Don’t Be a Statistic- Add This Handy Little Exercise Into Your Routine

You may have heard it before (from us, even!): the 20/20/20 rule is a simple, pain free, cost-effective way to keep digital eye strain at bay. Here’s how it works:

Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

This handy little rule is a real doozy. Here’s why: by taking short breaks frequently, you allow the focusing muscles to relax. Looking at something 20 feet away ensures that you don’t engage the muscles for fine-tuning the close-up focus.

Don’t Forget to Blink

You’d think we’re joking when we say this, but we mean it. The average person blinks 12-15 times per minute2. However, when the average person is sitting at a computer or looking at their phone? 66% less to just 4-6 blinks per minute.

When you blink, you’re actually washing the surface of the eye and applying a thin layer of lubricant. This barely perceptible action is essential to eye health. Reduced blinking is associated with dry eye-like symptoms, including eye burn and blurred vision.

We Can Help!

While the previous tips can help you to manage digital eye strain symptoms on your own, other treatments are also  often necessary.   The right eyewear is critical.  Specially designed computer glasses, such as Hoya Tact Progressive or SYNC lenses can make a big difference  in improving your digital productivity and comfort.  We have found blue light filtering lenses to be helpful, such as Hoya Recharge Anti-reflective treatment.  A comprehensive eye exam will help us determine which treatments are right for you.  Schedule an appointment today.

Try this quiz on computer eye strain and computer vision syndrome to test your knowledge about how computer use affects your eyes and what you can do about it.