Contributed by -Healthians Team

Our eyes are one of the most amazing organs in our body that helps us perceive almost 80% of the information that you take in from the world. They have the capability to capture and interpret more than one-million pulse signals per millisecond and transmit to the brain. Our eyes drive our thoughts, actions, and behaviour. Eyes are also an integral part in regulating sleep patterns, hormone production, and regulating the body’s time clock, that is called the circadian rhythm. When all is well, most of us take our eyes for granted. In this new era of digitization, we find ourselves looking at digital screens throughout much of the day. The amount of time you spend staring at a computer screen can affect your eyes and cause eye strain, which is commonly known as digital eye strain. In such a scenario, we can’t afford to overlook taking care of our eyes and risk losing their full potential in the longer run. Read on to know more about digital eye strain and what you can do to prevent it.

What is digital eye strain?

Eyestrain can develop when your eyes intensely focus on one activity such as staring at a computer screen constantly, driving a car for a long period or reading a book in dim light. In this digital era, eyestrain is a common condition. It is caused due to the use of digital devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. It is also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS).

Symptoms of digital eye strain - Healthians

What are the symptoms of digital eye strain?

Eyestrain signs and symptoms include:

  • Tired or itching eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Eyestrain headache
  • Neck or back
  • Sensitiveness to light
  • Concentration difficulties

[Also read: 10 tips to protect your precious eyes]

What causes digital eye strain?

Your eye muscles get sore from prolonged screen time. When you look at a screen continuously, the muscles in and around your eyes work harder to focus. When your eyes become sore, the pressure gradually develops, resulting in digital eye strain.

Some other causes of eyestrain include:

  • Reading in dim light or too bright light
  • Experiencing eye problems like dry eyes
  • Maintaining poor posture when looking at a digital device
  • Failing to blink as often as normal
  • Holding a digital device too far or too close to your eyes
  • Being exposed to the blue light emitted from digital devices
  • Viewing a screen that doesn’t have adjusted brightness

How can it be diagnosed?

To diagnose digital eye strain, your doctor may go through your history and ask about the symptoms to determine the presence of any general health problems. Your doctor may also ask about the medications you’ve taken to relieve the symptoms or analyse the environmental factors that may be contributing to the symptoms related to the excessive use of a digital device. Your doctor may also want to examine how your eyes respond to various conditions.

How can it be treated?

After examining your eyes and basis your symptoms, your doctor may suggest you take regular breaks so that your eyes focus at different distances. Treatment for eye strain generally consists of making lifestyle changes. Your doctor may prescribe glasses specifically for computer use or may also recommend eye drops or ointments, to help relieve your symptoms.

How can digital eye strain be prevented?

Here are some methods you can follow to relieve the pressure around the eyes and prevent eye strain.

Prevent eye strain - Healthians

Take short breaks, or follow the 20-20-20 eye rule

Eye Strain occurs when you engage in a single activity for a prolonged period without a break. You should shift your focus to something every 20 minutes, and divert your eyes away from the screen and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

You should not only look away every 20 minutes but also make sure to take short breaks during the day. Also, you can take a walk outside in the natural light during your lunch break if you’ve spent the whole morning working on a computer.

[Also read: Relax instantly with these five eye exercises]

Position your screen

You should maintain a distance from your digital device. The screen should be about an arm’s length from your eyes. You should always maintain a proper length between the handheld devices and your eyes. You can also enlarge the text size on the screen as per your comfort level. 

Adjust the lighting

Too dim or too bright light can cause eye strain, depending on the activity. You have to make sure that the light comes from behind you if you’re reading or focusing intensely. The blue light emitted from digital devices can also cause eye strain. You can turn on the reading mode while reading texts or books on your device.

Blink your eyes

While you are working on a screen, sometimes you forget to blink. When you blink less, your eyes can get dry and irritated. So, blinking is necessary to refresh and moisten your eyes. You can resolve this issue with the use of eye drops. You should always try to blink often when using a screen, which can prevent the symptoms from occurring.

Check the air

Poor air quality may cause eye strain due to dry and polluted environments. You should always:

  • Use a humidifier to improve the air quality by increasing the moisture in the air 
  • Avoid smoking and exposing your eyes to second hand smoke. 

Wear proper eyeglasses

You should consult with your doctor if you need special eyewear to reduce eye strain. Your doctor may prescribe specialized lenses, devices, or eye therapy for the activity that causes strain. Those who are wearing contact lenses, they can cut down the time of wearing contact lenses to rest their eyes.

Reduce the screen time

A simple way to avoid eyestrain is to limit the time of exposure to the digital device. You should spend less time on digital devices and limit it before bedtime.

Sometimes you can’t control the amount of screen time due to the nature of your work. These above-mentioned methods can help relieve the eye strain and soothe your eyes. In addition to these methods, it is also important to receive comprehensive annual eye exams just to find out any underlying eye diseases. It is always advisable to consult with your eye doctor to spot the early symptoms of digital eye strain.

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