Digital eye strain isn't a new problem. As a matter of fact, almost 3 out of 4 of us are subjected to this discomfort every day. This article explains what digital eye strain (DES) is, what causes it, and ways to reduce its effects. For all of us who work in front of a monitor all day, take heed to the suggestions on how to provide some relief so you can come home tonight and not feel like your eyes have withered away.
What is Digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain occurs after more than 2 hours of continuous exposure to computer screens, tablets, and smartphones. It causes physical discomfort which includes dry, burning, and itchy eyes. The strain on the eyes can cause blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue. Over 70% of Americans experience digital eye strain every day. In the work environment, office workers might not be subjected to flying particles or other impact hazards that require safety glasses but they do have some exposure risks that can affect the performance and productivity while at work. Digital eye strain is one of several. Those who have photosensitivity issues or simply need relief from long hours of glare in your office environment do have some hope.
What causes digital eye strain?
With high-resolution retina displays, light is focused and can be intense. As we do our work, we are exposed to this light as we concentrate. This causes us to blink less, therefore causing less lubrication to our eyes. Studies have shown that the average person blinks about 18 times per minute. While working and concentrating, that rate is reduced and the dry, itchy, burning eye symptoms begin to appear. There have been reports that lighting in the office can also contribute to the problem of glare adding to the problem. It would make sense that staring for long periods of time in front of a bright computer monitor would cause dry eyes. Ophthalmologists have known this for a long time. Add to the fact that when we take a break from our desk work we pull out our smartphones and again begin to stare at our email, Facebook and Twitter feeds to get caught up socially.
6 Ways to reduce digital eye strain
The fact remains, we can't get rid our our digital devices so we should find other means to help us reduce digital eye strain. Here are 6 ways to quickly make a difference and provide some relief as you face your computer monitor, tablet, or smartphone each and every day.
1. Increase your text size.
This is an easy and effective way to make an immediate difference. Some may think that increasing your browser display text size means your vision is getting worse but the truth is it relieves the strain on your eyes and can reduce the stress level on your eyes. Adjust the text size settings on all of your devices.
2. Minimize Screen glare by turning down the brightness.
3. Wear protective lenses designed to reduce glare or blue light. Computer programmers and gamers have known this for years. Wearing a light-tinted lens that is amber, tan, or gray can help provide additional comfort by reducing light intensity and glare.
4. Use the 20/20/20 rule. Take a 20 second break for every 20 minutes in front of a digital display and stare at something 20 feet away.
5. Be aware of your ergonomic seated position, ensuring that your arms, hands, back, and head are not being strained or stressed and if you wear glasses, ensure they are properly positioned so you don't have to tilt your head to see properly.
6. Check with your optician. It is always best to talk with your doctor and determine the current condition of your eye health. Discussing your work environment and the potential hazards will allow the doctor to make recommendations to help protect your eyes.