How much time do you spend looking at your computer, tablet, phone, or TV each day? The answer for most American adults is 11 hours, on average.
Whether you use a computer all day at work or you spend your personal time catching up on social media, that’s a lot of hours. Looking at screens all day long probably won’t ruin your vision permanently, but it might lead to an increasingly common condition called computer vision syndrome.
Computer vision syndrome, or simply digital eye strain, includes symptoms like dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. Along with bothersome vision symptoms, you might experience tech neck — or pain in your head, neck, and shoulders.
Screen time is an unavoidable part of our daily lives, but there’s a lot you can do to protect your eyes. Melanie Frogozo, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Swati Kumar, OD, FAAO, and our eye team at Alamo Eye Care provide comprehensive eye care for people of all ages, including ways to prevent the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Here are our favorite tips to reduce eye strain every day:
The goal of ergonomics in your workspace is to increase productivity and comfort. Choose a desk chair that supports your upper body and encourages you to sit up straight with your neck in a neutral position.
Adjust your desktop monitor to be about an arm’s length away and at or near your eye level. No matter what type of screen you’re using, make sure it’s aligned with your head to take strain off your eyes and your neck. Screens should be directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level for maximum comfort.
The light your device emits, glare on the screen, and the level of light around you can all increase strain on your eyes. To avoid digital eye strain, your device should be the brightest light in the room.
Consider increasing the brightness on your device when you’re in a bright environment, like in the office or outdoors. Lower the brightness if you’re in a dark room. Cleaning your screen regularly also helps eliminate dust and smudges that can make glare worse.
Blinking distributes tears across the surface of your eyes to keep them comfortable, but we naturally blink less when we’re focused on screens. You blink 15-20 times a minute when you aren’t looking at a screen, but you blink less than half as much when you are.
Becoming conscious of how often you blink could reduce symptoms of digital eye strain. Get in the habit of blinking more often when you’re using a device or watching TV.
Along with trying to blink more frequently, start taking regular breaks throughout the day to give your eyes a break. Consider implementing the 20-20-20 rule: take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
Focusing on something other than a screen for even a few minutes helps reduce strain on your eyes. Plus, getting up or stretching could lower your risk of muscle fatigue and tech neck.
Blue light waves are naturally found in sunlight, but devices also emit high levels of blue light. Prolonged exposure to artificial blue light could contribute to eye fatigue and even affect your ability to sleep at night.
Computer glasses, or blue light-blocking glasses, stop excessive blue light from reaching your eyes. Wearing blue light glasses when you’re using your computer, tablet, phone, or watching TV could improve symptoms of digital eye strain.
Blinking less, blue light, and more can all increase your risk of digital eye strain, but untreated eye conditions could be causing vision symptoms too. Common issues like astigmatism or farsightedness could make your eyes hurt, whether or not you’re staring at screens.
Getting eye exams at Alamo Eye Care is one of the best ways to identify eye problems and find effective treatment. Our team recommends comprehensive exams at regular intervals depending on your age and medical history, but you can also schedule an appointment any time you’re concerned about your vision.
It’s not easy to cut down on screen time in today’s digital world, but these tips can help protect your eyes from excessive strain. Learn more about keeping your eyes healthy and your vision strong with a consultation at Alamo Eye Care. Contact us online or call the office for an appointment.