Digital eye strain is an irritating condition which essentially arises from lengthy use of laptops, TVs and handheld tablets or smartphones. Humans have been around for a long time, but only in the past few years have we started spending large parts of our days (and nights, and weekends, and toilets breaks) staring at screens.
A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to know that you are suffering from eye strain and not another condition. Our optometrists are trained experts in using the latest cutting-edge imaging technology, to analyse your eye in great detail and guarantee an accurate diagnosis.
It is the physical discomfort (though usually not pain) experienced around the eyes from prolonged use of smartphones, tablets and computers. This regularly affects those who use these screens for 2 hours or more each day.
We have vitally important muscles in our eyes which allow us to focus at different distances. When reading from a screen or TV, our eye muscles have to work hard for a long period of time. This eventually causes strain in the muscles, which we feel as discomfort around the eye.
The main treatment for eye strain is to adapt your daily routine to include preventative measures, such as wearing computer glasses or reducing glare from around the room. It is caused by overuse, so taking extra breaks from screens will also go a long way.
Focusing on digital screens takes more effort than reading from a whiteboard or a well printed novel. Certain best practices allow us to minimize the effort input demanded of our eye muscles, which in turn reduces our susceptibility to eye strain. Put simply, if you work a muscle less, it won’t be as strained.
Your monitor should sit at around 26-30” from your eyes, as this is the most comfortable distance for your eyes to focus comfortably this is called the RPA and is what we should all aim for in our desk setup.
Computers often require our eyes to focus at a distance which is somewhere between short and long sight, called “intermediate” sight. Computer glasses are designed to optimally focus at this intermediate distance, to minimise the amount of strain on your eye muscles.
In fact, research suggests that some high frequency blue light emitted by modern monitors could be damaging to our eye health. Computer glasses are being designed with filters which absorb a large portion of this blue light without affecting your color perception. Again, this should help minimize eye strain and other adverse effects from prolonged screen use.
Eye exams accomplish so much more than simply evaluating your need for corrective lenses. They are a gateway into your overall eye health, and assessments let us know if there is any underlying condition which may be confused with eye strain. They also allow us to gauge the extent and severity of your symptoms, and thus heighten our ability to recommend treatment.
By having ambient lighting which is soft and light (especially behind your computer) you can seriously reduce the amount of effort required by your eyes to focus.
Use blinds, curtains or reflection-absorbent materials in your office setup, where possible, as glare can contribute to eye strain.
This is a way to give your eyes a bit of a rest. Every 20 minutes, try to focus on an object over 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Your eyes can relax and get a little rest before carrying on with the computer. These small breaks can really help your eyes in the long run.