Do you spend hours on the computer screen churning out numbers at work? Your eyes hurt, right? And so, you look forward to getting home and finally relaxing by … staring at the TV or your phone? Computer eye strain is no joke! It plagues our world with the most distressing eye strain symptoms. However, all is not lost! With the proper eye strain treatment, you can overcome problems of eye strain in no time.
You must be wondering: “What is eye strain and do computers and other digital devices really impact our health so severely?”.
Well, look no further, we have compiled a comprehensive informational article on the impacts, the severity and the treatment of digital eye strain. Simply read ahead for more information on this common ailment.
What is Computer Eye Strain?
Digital or Computer Eye Strain is one of the most common ailments haunting the modern society. While the problem may be acute, it certainly does not make it disregardable.
According to WebMD:
“Computer Eye Strain is quite like other repetitive motion conditions. These injuries can happen at work during regular hours. When your eyes repeat the same movement such as reading back and forth, your eye muscles get strained. This condition worsens as you continue the movement.”
What Causes Digital Eye Strain?
Your eyes need to rest! Generally, we blink about 15 times per minute. However, researchers have determined that people tend to blink half as often when performing repetitive tasks such as reading, watching or even playing.
However, your eye muscles tend to do a lot more work when put in front of a digitally lit screen. You need to focus and refocus and move your eyes back and forth as you read in a normal situation. However, with a screen, the glare, brightness, contrast and the flickering come into play as well.
According to the Vision Council:
“60.5 % of Americans report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.”
Studies show you are more likely to be affected by the screen if you already suffer from eye problems.
The most common problem is, unsurprisingly, brought upon by ourselves. If you either need glasses, but don’t wear them, or wear the wrong prescription glasses, you might be subjected more to computer eye strain than others.
Uncorrected or under corrected vision problems may cause you to tilt your head or bend your head forward to get a closer view. This can result in poor postures and muscle spasms.
Is it really that big of a problem?
Well, yes! Every year, vision disorders are the reason for about eight billion dollars in lost productivity. Moreover, an uncorrected vision can reduce worker’s performance by twenty percent.
One of the major factors is viewing things up close. When you look at things up close, your eye muscles are being flexed as hard as they can be.
Think of it like this: “What would happen if you flexed your biceps for 10 hours a day, every day?”.
Now think of what would happen to a thin fragile muscle like your cornea? With so much stress placed for so long, your eye muscles are bound to get strained!
So, all in all, digital eye strain can be caused by:
- Continuous work
- Improper viewing distances
- Glare on the screen
- Poor lighting
- Poor monitor settings such as brightness, contrast, flicker, etc.
- Repetitive eye movements
- Poor seating postures
- Blue hues
- Under-corrected or uncorrected vision problems
- A combination of all these factors
What are the Symptoms of Computer Eye Strain?
Eye Strain is not a single condition, instead, it encompasses a variety of different symptoms all related to spending too much time on the screen.
These symptoms usually manifest when you perform any focused activity for a long time. However, these symptoms seem to get a boost when performed on a screen.
Now, you might be wondering: “How do I know if I am suffering from digital eye strain?”.
Well, the most common symptoms of it include:
- Eye discomfort
- Eye fatigue
- Burning or inflamed eyes
- Irritation of eyes
- Difficulty focusing
- Sore eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Watery or dry eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Neck and shoulder pain
Although none of these symptoms are serious and usually go away once you rest your eyes, however, they can be extremely unpleasant. They act as a hurdle in your daily activities and prevent you from getting your work done.
Most Americans report these symptoms:
- 23% who are experiencing eye strain
- 23% dry eyes
- 21% headache
- 22% blurred vision
- 31% shoulder and neck pain
Who is Affected?
In developed countries like America and Canada, the use of digital technology has surpassed all other options. Previously, only those were affected who worked with computers all day long, However, in the modern world, things are quite different.
Even if your day job does not require you to stare at a computer screen, chances are you still suffer from digital eye strain. With the advent of smartphones, you will see everyone around you with their noses in these miniature screens.
Computer eyestrain is the number one office-related complaint in the U.S., affecting more than one hundred and forty Million people! Mostly, eye strain symptoms can be found in people who spend more than two hours on the computer or any other digital device.
Here’s the kicker:
More than 80.3% of all Americans use digital devices for more than two hours a day! Whereas eighty-nine million Americans spend 10+ hours a day on digital devices.
With increasing digitization, it seems more and more of our daily tasks can be easily accomplished online. The convenience and ease of using a digital device to solve most of our problems have resulted in an increased use of these devices.
According to The Vision Council:
- 76% use a computer to do research.
- 57% use a smartphone as an alarm clock.
- 54% use a computer to go shopping.
- 54% use a smartphone to check the weather.
- 49% use a computer to find a recipe.
However, studies found that youngsters tend to be more affected by this affliction than their older counterparts. This can be attributed to the fact that they simply use digital devices more often.
Here are the statistics of people who use a digital device for more than 2 hours a day:
- 87.7% of those ages eighteen to thirty-nine.
- 82.6% of those ages forty to fifty-nine.
- 76.3% of those ages sixty and up.
The more you look at these figures the more you come to the same conclusion:
The impact of digital eye strain in modern society cannot be denied or ignored. It is a very real problem plaguing our society and stagnating its growth.
How can you Eliminate Computer Eye Strain?
Although the effects of Digital Eye Strain may not be permanent, they still need to be controlled. They can affect the productivity of the workplace severely. Not only that, they can cause you to lose focus on your daily tasks and can result in sleeping problems as well.
If you work with computers, it can be harder for you to reduce your exposure time. However, this does not mean you can’t do anything about it. There are various steps and solutions that can help you keep Eye strain symptoms at bay.
Here are some eye strain treatment methods.
1. The 20-20-20 Rule
One of the most common methods of treating eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule.
This rule states that you should take a 20-second break from your computer after every 20 minutes and stare at a place 20 feet away from you. This helps in relaxing your eyes after a lot of strain. When you stare at a far-off place, your eye muscles tend to relax and eye fatigue is reduced drastically.
2. Longer Breaks
If you are working on a computer for longer than a few hours, then you should take longer breaks.
For example, it should suffice to take a 15-minute break after every 2 hours. In this case, it is best to move up and about and visit the water cooler or the restroom. The restroom has dimmer lighting and it will provide your eyes with a much-needed break.
3. Adjust Monitor Brightness and Contrast Settings
Changing the brightness of the screen will surely relieve a lot of stress from your eyes right away! Your screen shouldn’t be too light or too dark. Instead, it should match the brightness of your surroundings. Adjust the contrast settings as well and find the perfect balance for your eyes.
If you have trouble reading a webpage with dark text on a dark background, simply copy paste it and change the text color. Generally, the best contrast is a white background with black text.
4. Reduce Glare
Your computer screen generally reflects backlight which can result in eye strain. It can be reduced by any of the following methods:
- Install a matte screen filter that does not reflect any light.
- Reduce external light by drawing the curtains, using a darker paint color, or by using a computer hood.
- Use anti-reflective lenses that will reduce glare from your glasses.
5. Reduce Flickering
Flickering can be reduced by:
- Raising the screen’s refresh rate.
- Using a higher resolution LCD screen rather than a CRT monitor.
6. Enlarge Text
Eye Strain can be caused when reading small text, so it is better to keep the text large. You can zoom in on web pages and other document viewers using a simple keyboard shortcut “Ctrl/Command + Scroll”.
7. Reduce Blue Light
Blue Light is a short wavelength that is related to a lot of eye strain. Longer wavelength lights such as reds and oranges are better at relaxing the eyes.
You can reduce blue light by:
- Lowering the color temperature of the screen which ensures less blue light is given out.
- Use software filters that effectively filter out blue light.
- Use special computer glasses that filter out blue light.
Some popular filters include:
- “Nightlight” by Windows 10.
- “Night Shift” by iOS and MacOS.
- “Night Mode” by Android.
8. Adjust the Lighting in the Room
Eye strain symptoms can be due to excessive sunlight or white light in the room. The light from the surroundings should be balanced as well. If your room is too dark, it can make the monitor seem too bright. If it is too bright, it can cause glare and unnecessary strain.
- Use blinds or curtains to reduce any excessive sunlight.
- Avoid sitting under bright lights, instead, use floor lamps.
- Do not sit with the light source directly behind you, instead sit at an angle.
- Use lighting Strips to add light to see everything without causing strain.
9. Pay Attention to Computer Ergonomics
You can modify your workstation for eye strain treatment with these simple steps:
- Ensure your neck and head are straight and in line. Do not bend your neck or head forward.
- Face your computer screen directly. Do not turn your head or twist your back while viewing the screen.
- Place your monitor 10 to 15 degrees below eye level. The ideal position is that your eye level should be one third the way from the top of the screen.
- Your monitor should be 20 to 24 inches away from your eyes.
- Adjust it away from any external light sources that might cause glare.
- Use a Document holder to keep all documents at level with the computer screen.
10. Take Care of Your Eyes
- Get regular examinations to ensure properly corrected vision.
- Use artificial tears if your eyes get too dry.
- Take a break from wearing contacts and wear your glasses instead.
- Exercise your eyes.
- Give your eyes a break.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
In conclusion, computer eye strain is easy to cure and takes a little extra precaution every day. All you need to do is follow the above instructions and you’re good to go!
But what’s the bottom line here?
Easy! Do not take your eyes for granted! Take special care of them every day. Vision is a sense you do not want to lose!