In today’s digital world, many Americans spend multiple hours per day staring at computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets and other electronics. As our lives become more digital, eye doctors have noticed that our eyes are becoming less sharp.
Have your eyes ever felt tired, dry or irritated after a few hours of working on a computer? If so, you may have a condition called Digital Eye Strain (also referred to as Computer Vision Symptom). Nearly 70% of employed US adults claim to have experienced digital eyestrain symptoms from the increasing usage of digital devices, as reported by the American Optometric Association. The symptoms may include dryness, irritation and/or redness in the eyes, fatigue, blurred vision, problems focusing, headaches, neck and shoulder pain.
While it can’t cause permanent vision loss, the side effects from working long hours on a computer or tablet are nagging. Since we can’t tell you to use your digital devices less (or can we?), these 8 tips can help avoid the consequences of digital eyestrain:
1. Stay Hydrated
H20 is always good for your body, especially if you are someone who sits in front of a computer on a daily basis. Drink lots of water while working to keep your body hydrated and prevent your eyes from drying out.
2. Adjust your monitor’s position
Being too close to the computer screen can cause extra strain on your vision. The monitor should be roughly 20-28 inches away from your eyes. As a rule of thumb, sit at your desk and extend your arm forward. Your palm should be resting on the screen comfortably. Your screen should also be positioned slightly below eye level and shouldn’t be tilted upward. Make sure your monitor isn’t facing a window or is under direct lighting that would cause a glare.
3. Take Vitamins
Your eyes use up a lot of your body’s energy and deserve to be well supported. Keep an eye out for vitamins with the key antioxidants and minerals essential for eye health. These include vitamin A, C, E, B complex, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.
When you are tuned in to a digital screen, you are blinking less than the normal blink rate. Train yourself to blink every 10-15 seconds. Blinking frequently will ensure that the front part of your eye, the cornea, gets coated. The coating of your tears helps prevent drying, nourishes your eye with oxygen and nutrients. It will also help sharpen your vision.
5. Try cupping your eyes
Let your eye muscles relax by gently massaging the area around your eyes. Follow by rubbing the palms of your hands together to createwarmth from the friction. Cup your palms over your closed eyes and rest them while taking deep slow breaths. This exercise is essentially meditation for your eyes!
6. Invest in computer glasses
If you wear prescriptioneyewear or if you are past your mid 40’s, get a pair of computer glasses. Digital eyestrain can be worse for people who use bifocal and progressive lenses. Also, people beyond the age of 45 begin to develop presbyopia and lose their ability to focus up close. Focusing can be strenuous on your eyes and can cause tension in your eye muscles, which can then result in increased eye pressure. These glasses are optimized for reading on the computer and have a different focal point than reading glasses do.
7. 20/20 Rule
Every 20 minutes, take a break from looking at the screen and focus your eyes on a distant object somewhere else in the room for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eye muscles a break from concentrating.
8. Eye Drops
If needed, over the counter eye drops or artificial tears can help ease dryness. Make sure to purchase eye drops that are marked as “lubricating eye drops.” Some over the counter eye drops only help reduce redness and provide temporary moisture and relief. Your eye doctor can also prescribe eye drops for you.
By keeping in mind these few simple tips, your eyes will be more tolerable of the hours spent with your trusty computer, tablet and smartphone. If your digital eyestrain symptoms continue to bother you, schedule an appointment with your eye care physician for a diagnosis and to discuss possible treatment options.
Daphne has been writing about health-related topics for many years and currently writes on behalf of the LASIK eye surgeons at EyeCare 20/20. In her spare time, she enjoys capturing moments through a camera lens; traveling to new and far away places and cheering on the Florida State Seminoles. Follow her on Twitter @daphnelefran