The Internet has fundamentally changed how we work and interact with others. If you work in an office, then chances are you rely heavily on a computer to perform your tasks. You also likely pick up your smartphone throughout the day to catch up on news and connect with friends. Being connected offers numerous benefits but it also means spending more time on digital devices.
A report from Ernst & Young found that Australians spend over 10 hours a day on average on internet-connected devices. Nearly a quarter of respondents indicated that they spend more time on their smartphones than they did with their friends or partners.
That much time in front of a screen could lead to eye strain – a common eye condition caused by prolonged use of digital devices. Here we’ll look at what digital eye strain is and how to relieve it.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) describes a group of vision-related problems with eye discomfort being the most frequently reported symptom.
- Dry or irritated eyes
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Neck and shoulder pain
Other symptoms may also include increased sensitivity to light and difficulty concentrating. As a result, digital eye strain can have a negative effect on productivity and make workers more prone to errors.
Extended use of digital devices is one of the most common cause of eye strain. The average person blinks about 15 to 20 times a minute which keeps the eyes from drying out. But researchers have found that people blink at a much lower rate when staring at a screen.
The good news is that many of the symptoms reported are only temporary. By making just a few changes you can greatly alleviate digital eye strain and even prevent it altogether.
How to Relieve Digital Eye Strain
Reducing time away from a screen is strongly recommended but that may not always be possible. Here’s what you can do to make using your computer easier on your eyes:
- Wear specialised eyewear (computer day time glasses) to block out the harmful wave lengths of blue light
- Position the computer screen about 25 inches from your face
- Angle the monitor to about 10 to 15 degrees below eye level
- Install a phone screen filter to block blue light and minimise glare
- Adjust the colour temperature of your monitor by using software such as f.lux
- Make an effort to blink more frequently
Holding a smartphone or tablet closer to the eyes can accelerate eye strain especially if you are reading smaller text. Keep these devices at a comfortable distance of about 15 inches. If you plan to use either for an extended period, the 20-20-20 rule is a good guideline – Every 20 minutes, look away at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Remember to also rest your eyes for about 15 minutes after 2 hours.
It’s clear that internet-connected devices are here to stay. By changing how you use your digital devices, you can greatly reduce eye strain and take better care of your eye health.