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Computer Eye Strain: Symptoms and solutions
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 5 May 2021
It’s commonplace in the world today for most of us to spend the majority of our working day in close proximity to a computer screen, and for our smartphones to never be far from our sides.
This can negatively impact our eyes, as extensive use of computers can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), where our eyes become dry, tired, and even strained.
What is digital eye strain?
Computer Vision Syndrome is also referred to as digital eye strain. This type of eye discomfort is caused by digital devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, gaming systems and televisions, especially when used for long periods of time.
What are the symptoms of computer eye strain?
While not causing any permanent damage, eye strain symptoms can cause a lot of discomfort and irritation in the short term. These symptoms include:
- Eye fatigue
- Physical tiredness
- Eye twitching
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Trouble focusing
In addition, use of digital screens often limits the amount of time that we blink, therefore denying our eyes the hydration they need to stay moist and healthy. Dry eye syndrome is when our eyes have become dried out due to tear ducts no longer producing adequate natural tears that our eyes need.
What causes eye strain from computers?
The main factor causing eye strains from computers is the blue light emitted from these digital devices.
Does blue light damage your eyes?
Blue wavelengths from the sun can provide many benefits, such as boosting our attention spans and moods; however, blue light can also have a negative impact, such as suppressing melatonin, preventing good sleep. In addition to this, blue light may damage the light-sensitive cells in your retina. This can lead to solar maculopathy, an atrophy similar to macular degeneration, which can result in permanent vision loss.
How does blue light from electronics harm our eyes?
Digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light, contributing to Computer Vision Syndrome. Blue light from digital devices harms our eyes by penetrating all the way to the retina, as our eyes are not very good at blocking blue light.
Blue light disperses more easily than other visible light and is therefore not as focused. The unfocused light reduces contrast which can cause digital eyestrain.
Do computers really damage eyes?
No, computers cannot cause damage to your eyes. Prolonged screen use will cause your eyes to feel uncomfortable; however, this is temporary and should disappear once screen use has reduced.
How can I reduce eye strain on my computer?
You may not be able to reduce the amount of computer work you do throughout the day; however, there are a few things you can do to protect your eyes from the effects of screen time and reduce the risk of dry eye or eye strain. Although this will not cause vision problems long-term, it can still cause uncomfortable symptoms. These include making changes to your environment and daily habits.
Wear blue light glasses
Wearing blue light glasses can help to reduce digital eye strain and protect your eyes while using a computer. These glasses feature lenses that filter out and block blue light from digital devices. Blue light glasses can prevent headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, macular degeneration and improve your sleeping pattern. You can purchase blue light lenses for a wide range of designer glasses at Feel Good Contacts.
Practice regular blinking throughout your day when you’re working at the computer. Blinking will help create moisture in your eyes and help to prevent you from getting dry eyes.
Use eye drops
If you tend to experience dry eye syndrome, you might want to speak to your optician about using artificial tears or eye drops. Our comfi Drops are a highly effective solution for protection against factors such as digital screen use.
Go for an eye exam
Having regular eye tests will not only ensure clear and comfortable vision but will also address other eye health issues and medical conditions.
If you use a digital device every day at work, your employer is under obligation to fund your eye exam as stipulated by the Health and Safety Regulations 1992.
You should inform your optometrist of your computer use when you go for your eye test so that they can take this into consideration. They may even ask whether you use a computer, how it is set up and how much time you spend on digital devices each day.
Adjust the settings on your monitor
Make sure to adjust the brightness and screen resolution on your computer. A higher-quality resolution and adequately bright screen will make it easier on your eyes as you work and help to reduce eye strain and fatigue.
The brightness of your screen should match the brightness of your surroundings. The text size and contrast should be easy and comfortable to read too. Adjusting the colour temperature on your monitor to reduce blue light is also advised. Blue light causes more eye strain and is a short wavelength. Longer wavelength hues such as orange and red are considered better for your eyes.
Use adequate lighting
Make sure there’s a proper light source around your computer. Try to create equal brightness in your workspace, so there’s no shadowy areas or glare from lamps to watch out for.
If possible, we recommend that you:
- Use floor lamps rather than desk lamps
- Block out excessive sunlight with curtains or blinds
- Avoid fluorescent lighting
Minimise glare by:
- Regularly dusting your computer monitor
- Installing an anti-glare screen
- Reducing the external light
- Using lenses with an anti-reflective coating will also help to reduce glare (If you wear glasses)
Rest your eyes
Take a break every now and again. It’s best to follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
Looking into the distance relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye and therefore helps to reduce digital eye strain.
Adjust your workstation
Make sure that your desk is arranged in the best way possible for your vision:
- Your workstation and chair should be positioned at the correct height to maintain a good posture while using your computer. This will ensure that eye strain is reduced.
- Your computer screen should be positioned at a good distance away from your eyes and around 10-15 degrees below eye level.
- Choosing screens and keyboards that can adjust is highly recommended.
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