Staring at a screen for too long can make your eyes feel tired. It can also give you headaches and make you feel as if you can hardly keep your eyes open, which are basic concerns of workplace safety. All of these are common symptoms of digital eye strain, and they’re all caused by too much screen time. Is there a cure for digital eye strain?
How to Protect Your Eyes From Digital Eye Strain
Given the cause of digital eye strain, it would seem that the best thing to do is to cut down the amount of time you spend on digital devices. But this isn’t always realistic. Work obligations, for example, prohibit many people from limiting their computer use.
Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve eye strain and protect your eyes in the long run. Here are some simple precautions you can take to avoid digital eye strain, especially if your work involves using a computer or your phone for long hours.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
If you work on a computer all day, follow the 20-20-20 rule. According to this rule, you should take a break every 20 minutes and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds so that your eyes can relax. You can also stand up and move about during your break to relieve fatigue.
Don’t Forget to Blink
Blinking helps keep the surface of the eye moist. However, we blink far less often than normal when staring at a screen. During these non-blinking phases, tears coating the surface of the eye evaporate quickly, causing dryness and discomfort. To reduce your risk of developing dry eye when staring at a screen, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times slowly as if falling asleep.
You can follow that up with this eye movement exercise to further relieve digital eye strain:
- Close your eyes.
- Slowly move your eyes upward, then downward. Repeat three times.
- Slowly move your eyes to the left, then to the right. Repeat three times.
Adjust Your Screen Settings
Make your device more eye-friendly by adjusting the following settings:
If your screen is brighter than the surrounding light, your eye muscles have to work harder to focus. Adjusting your screen’s brightness to match that of your environment can help reduce digital eye strain.
If you find yourself squinting to try to read what’s on your screen, increase the text or font size. This helps prevent unnecessary strain. If it’s within your budget, you can also opt for a device with a bigger screen.
Black text on a white or slightly yellow background provides optimal readability, whereas white text on a black background causes eye fatigue. It is also less readable, so stick to dark-on-light combinations.
When you’re sitting too close to a device, your eye muscles have to work harder to focus. This can lead to eye fatigue, headaches, and neck pain. To avoid these issues, maintain a one-arm distance from your device while working.
Change Your Room Lighting
Proper room lighting matters when it comes to preventing digital eye strain. If the workplace is too bright or too dim, you risk straining your eyes to see what’s on your screen. To adjust room lighting, try closing or opening your drapes, shades, or blinds. You can also try using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes.
Glare from light reflecting off bright white walls, polished surfaces, and digital screens can aggravate your eyes. Therefore, it’s important that you position your screen so that you don’t produce glare from sunlight or indoor light.
You can also reduce glare by installing glare filters on your devices. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen to prevent digital eye strain. Painting bright white walls a darker color with a matte finish can also help minimize glare.
Use Artificial Tear Drops
Artificial tears, also called lubricating eye drops, help add moisture to your eyes to relieve dry eye discomfort. They also help your tear film work more effectively to protect the surface of your eyes. To relieve dry eye discomfort caused by too much screen time, apply one to two drops of artificial tears on each eye. Generally speaking, artificial tears are safe to use as often as you need them. They are available over the counter.
Use Proper Eyewear
If work obligations keep you from taking frequent breaks, try investing in glasses or contact lenses that are designed specifically to meet the unique visual demands of computer use. Using eyewear that fits your needs could improve workplace safety and help you do your work more efficiently without putting yourself at risk for digital eye strain.
Taking care of your eyes also requires you to make certain lifestyle changes. For example, aim to eat foods high in nutrients that are essential for healthy eyes and good vision, such as green leafy vegetables, orange fruits and vegetables, and fatty fish.
Also, hydration is important at work too. As your body dehydrates, so do your tear ducts, which can cause dry eyes, blurred vision, and other issues with your eyesight and overall eye health. It is therefore critical to consume plenty of fluids in order to stay hydrated, especially if you engage in a lot of physical activity.
Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Underlying eye conditions can make you more susceptible to digital eye strain so, get a comprehensive eye exam from a medical professional. If you already use glasses or contact lenses, make sure to get a comprehensive eye exam annually. Even if you don’t have underlying eye conditions, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional.
Protect Your Eyes From Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain is a prevalent problem in an increasingly digital world, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through it. By following the tips above, you should be able to avoid digital eye strain while you use your computer and other digital devices.