Our Eyes in The Digital Era

Digital devices have become a necessary and integral part of our lives. We use them at work, home and at school. They even live in our pockets. We’re constantly texting, researching, working, and social media-ing on our smartphones. Many of us have replaced traditional books with them, opting for tablets like iPads and Kindles instead. According to The Vision Council, an independent group eye doctors, the average American now spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen every day and nearly 50% of all Americans have jobs that require prolonged computer use.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also referred to as Digital Eye Strain (DES), describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged use of digital devices. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.

DES Symptoms include:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Dry, itchy and irritated eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain

Two of the main culprits behind DES are blue Light and glare. These byproducts of digital devices can contribute to many of the aforementioned symptoms. Prevention or reduction of these vision problems involves taking certain steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen. Luckily, DES is not a permanent vision issue. By following some or all of Dr. Patel’s recommendations below, you should rid your problem in no time!

Dr. Patel’s Recommendations

Learn the 20-20-20 rule.

  • This is the first defense against DES and is widely recommended by optometrists and ophthalmologists. It’s pretty simple: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This reduces stress on your eye and can combat the negative effects of digital devices.

Get routine eye exams.

  • Regular eye exams are also helpful as your eye doctor can recommend remedies, including a specific brand of eye drops.

Use proper eyewear.

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Lenses prescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing may be needed.

Modify you workstation.

  • It’s important that your computer is set up at the proper work distance. Use a high-resolution monitor to avoid squinting. And make sure you have proper lighting above you and minimize the brightness of the digital screen to an acceptable level.

Remember to blink.

  • To minimize your chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, make an effort to blink frequently. Reduced blink rate dries out our eyes, which contributes to DES. Using eye drops or artificial tears will moisten your eyes and can help mitigate negative effects of particularly dry or itchy eyes.
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