The emergence of technology through computer devices is nothing short of amazing. What started as a giant desktop with a convex monitor has transformed to many different shapes and sizes. Today, the computing power of that giant desktop is now in the palm of your hands thanks to many factors including the internet. Cloud storage has allowed just about any software to work in your smart phone. From passing time through games from the app store, to connecting with friends on social media, to monitoring your door camera at home, it seems you can really stay busy on that phone or computer. Just when you think you have watched all the YouTube videos out there, here came along entertaining TikTok clips
Due to all the activities that can grab your attention on that phone or laptop, what you think you spent 30 minutes on is more than likely a 1-2 hours. Now add that to the 6-8 hours of computer screen time at work or during school whether online or virtual. Then, that becomes a recipe for digital eye strain and fatigue.
Why only during short distance activities
So why do our eyes feel fatigued after prolong digital devices, why does this not happen when you watch TV? The answer is simple, the closer our eyes are focusing on something the more our eye muscles are flexing. When you stare at a computer screen 60 cm or 24 inches away, your eye muscles are continuously flexing while turning inwards to maintain a clear single focus. When you stare at something far away like across the office or across the street, your eye muscles relax. They will completely relax beyond 6 meters or 20 feet. Unlike the arm muscles that fatigue easily from holding up a grocery bag, eye muscles can remain active for a long period of time but will fatigue afterwards for longer. In other words, they can handle longer stress but will ache for a longer period of time afterwards. That ache can spread to the nearby muscles in the brows, head and neck. That is why general doctors will advise you to get an eye exam if you mention headaches.
Dull aches around the eyebrows and forehead and general fatigue are the main symptoms of digital eye strain. But aches around the temples and the back of the neck can also occur from chronic digital eyestrain. Other symptoms include dry eyes: burning sensation, grittiness or redness. Blue light from digital devices can also cause fatigue during the day and difficulty falling or staying asleep during the night.
Good posture is first and foremost precaution for computer use. First, make sure that your back is straight while the top of the computer screen is at your eye level. The height of your monitor is important here. This ensures that your eyes are not wide open, because you won’t look up at the screen, as this can expediate dryness. It also ensures you won’t hunch down to stair down at the screen which can create neck problems. Give your eyes frequent breaks. Staring away to the furthest thing in the room for 10 seconds twice an hour will help, and is easier to remember than the 20/20/20 rule.
Adding enhancement, such as blue blockers and anti-glare into your glasses can also help relieve your symptoms. Not all anti-glare filters and blue blockers are the same quality. Great quality material works really well while the benefits of the others may not even be noticeable. Unlike the anti-glare filter, blue blocker enhancement is not for everyone. Good lighting of digital devices as well as the room itself is important too. These are just a few strategies to tackle digital eye strain.
Improve your life by taking care of your eyes. As beneficial and entertaining they may be, digital devices, whether computer or phones, can cause physical consequences in ways that you may not perceive as why you are having those symptoms. It is easy to brush them off as work-related stress. Being aware of the symptoms and knowing ways to prevent eyestrain can really improve your overall well-being. We utilize these techniques as wells as several others, not mentioned above, to help our patients survive the daily grind of digital device use. In the end, eye strain does not just affect you at work but lingers afterwards. It will drain your energy that is needed to be able to engage in activities with friends and family after work. It will also drain much needed energy for your second job when you go home: your kids.