Think Your Computer is the Only Cause of Eye Strain? Think Again
Eye Health, Crizal

Think Your Computer is the Only Cause of Eye Strain? Think Again

It’s probably not surprising to hear that staring at a computer screen all day can be bad for your eyes. Over time, harmful blue light emitted from your computer’s screen can cause serious damage to the retina and prolonged exposure poses a risk factor for the onset of age-related macular degeneration. All that screen time can also lead to digital eye strain, resulting in tired eyes, headaches, itchy eyes, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light. But computer screens aren’t the only culprit of eye strain. Other digital devices like tablets and smartphones contribute to the problem as well.

Whether you’re looking at your phone, tablet, television, or e-reader, studies show that most people spend about 12 hours a day consuming some form of media. While all this time on digital devices keeps us in the loop, it can take a toll on your eyes. Since digital media is composed of tiny pixels and can often produce a pixilated image, the eyes have to work double-time to process the image. All that extra work the eyes endure leads to digital eye strain. Traditional media like magazines and newspapers are easier on the eyes because the graphics are sharper.

Unlike a computer screen, phones and tablets can be held wherever the user wants.  It’s estimated that people hold digital devices like phones, tablets, and e-readers two to nine inches closer to their eyes than they hold traditional media like newspapers, magazines, and books. That close proximity combined with the pixilated images on the screens cause our eyes to constantly be shifting in and out of focus.

In today’s world, avoiding all digital devices is pretty much impossible. Digital devices are used by so many people that it is estimated that about 70 percent of the adults in the U.S. experience digital eye strain. Luckily there are ways to combat the effects of digital eye strain.

  • Try the 20/20/20 rule.  Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  • Get some space. When on a smartphone, be conscious of how close you are holding it to your face.
  • Put the tablet down. Instead of spending all your time on a tablet, try using a computer screen that is 20-28 inches away from your eyes.
  • Hit the lights. Dim the amount of overhead and surrounding light that is competing with your device’s screen.
  • Remember to blink! Staring at digital screens can lead to dry eyes.
  • Cut the glare. Clean electronic device screens frequently to minimize glare.

If you wear glasses, ask your eye doctor about lenses with an anti-reflective coating. This can help reduce the glare that can reflect off digital screens and lessen the effects of digital eye strain.