There’s no denying that screen time has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has forced the entire world to go online-starting from schools, supermarkets, entertainment, work and the list goes on. Eye clinics are now witnessing an increase in the number of patients who are complaining about dry eyes, blurry and fluctuating vision, red eyes, eye fatigue, extreme headache and so on. Also, referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), it is important to note that if not controlled, this can lead to severe consequences.

In most cases, symptoms of Digital Eye Strain occur because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of an individual to comfortably perform them. People who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer or using a digital screen device every day are at a greater risk of developing CVS. Though the solutions to this problem are varied, here are 5 ways by which you can deal with it. 

Symptoms & Causes Of Digital Eye Strain

Here are some of the basic symptoms that you may develop in case of prolonged usage of computer, tablet, mobile or ebook screens.

  • Dry eyes symptoms (gritty, red, tired, itchy, sore, stinging or watery eyes)
  • Red eyes
  • Trouble wearing contact lenses
  • Blurry and fluctuating vision
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Eye fatigue
  • Severe headaches
  • Increasing short-sightedness (myopic shift)
  • Trouble concentrating and sleeping (because of increased blue-light exposure)
  • Mood changes and depression

These above symptoms can be caused by:

  • Poor seating posture
  • Low lighting
  • Uncorrected vision issues
  • Continuously glaring in front of a screen with increased brightness
  • Improper viewing distances 
  • A combination of the above

5 Ways By Which You Can Combat Digital Eye Strain

CVS or Digital Eye Strain is usually diagnosed after a visit to your ophthalmologist who will conduct a thorough eye examination. By making changes in how you view your screen and with regular eye care, this can be easily combated. 

1. Look Away From Your Screen Every 20 Minutes

Another cause of DES is focusing fatigue. To reduce eye fatigue from focusing constantly on your screen, start using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and fix your eyes on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help relax the focusing muscle inside your eyes and reduce eye fatigue to a great extent. Also, use this rule to remind yourself to blink frequently and apply eye drops whenever required. Looking away from the screen and taking frequent breaks can also help reduce the risk of severe headaches, neck and shoulder pain.

2. Use Computer Glasses

Take a consultation with your ophthalmologist to check if you can benefit from using computer glasses. If you spend long hours sitting in front of a computer or laptop working or studying, computer glasses can prove highly beneficial in this case and can be much more comfortable than wearing contact lenses. You can also ask your eye doctor for photochromic lenses or lightly tinted glasses for any kind of computer work. This will reduce the chances of your eyes directly coming in contact with the blue light that is emitted by these digital devices. 

3. Swap Few Digital Activities For Analogue

You don’t need to do everything digitally. For example, try listening to an audiobook instead of reading it on your e-reader. Give your YouTube or Netflix shows a miss and try listening to a podcast. Avoid doing all activities by watching videos online. Instead, go for a long walk or jog in your nearby park. Work on reducing your obsession over trying to reach a goal in Candy Crush or Subway Surfers and instead solve a puzzle or try your hand in board games. It’s all about moderation rather than elimination.  

4. Adjust Your Workstation

If you need to look back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen, place the pages on a copy stand adjacent to your monitor or laptop. Position your computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The centre of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck. Also, adjust your chair so your feet can rest comfortably on the floor. Use a blue light filter and avoid scrolling your mobile screens at night. Keep in mind that workplace ergonomics is real and adjusting your workstation can actually lead to less musculoskeletal injuries and will also improve your productivity. Apart from protecting your eyes from CVS, you can also give a better performance to your boss!

5. Use A Glare-Reduction Filter On Screens

Glare from light reflecting back from your screen or other surfaces in the room can contribute to Digital Eye Strain. So, it’s important that you install an anti-glare screen protector; and, if possible, paint bright or reflective walls a more soothing colour that has a matte finish. On the other hand, if you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective coating (AR). AR coating reduces glare by minimising the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your glass lenses.

Ophthalmologists have mentioned it time and again, the farther you’re away from the screen the better. However, in today’s digital world it’s nearly impossible to do that. Therefore, you need to keep in check that you moderate screen time not just for yourself but your kids and everyone in your family as well. Give your eyes a break!