Understanding Digital Eye Strain Could Prolong Your Eye Health
Did you know that straining your eyes can increase your chance of encountering eye problems down the road? In this digital age, more of us are experiencing eye strain than ever. So many in fact, that this kind of strain has been given its own name: digital eye strain.
By understanding digital eye strain and what causes it, you can take steps to protect your eyes, and in doing so, preserve your eyesight.
Why is Digital Eye Strain Such a New Issue?
The simple answer to this is that digital technology is new. The more complicated answer is that it’s an evolutionary issue.
The human body is designed to adapt to its environment as it changes around them. Historically, big environmental changes happen slowly over a matter of decades or even centuries. But in the case of this new digital environment of ours, the change has been rapid. Think about it: the technology we use on a daily basis is already so different from what we were using 10 years ago.
As the technology has changed, we’ve become more and more dependent on it. We’re now spending more time staring at a single space than any population of humans in history. Because this change has been so fast, the human body hasn’t had a chance to catch up; our eyes aren’t designed to stare at a screen for eight or more hours a day. As a result, they begin to grow tired.
The Additional Strain of Blue Light
A contributing factor to digital eye strain is what’s called blue light; a specific wavelength of ultraviolet light. Most phones, monitors, laptops and tablets emit blue light from their displays.
Blue light is a very scattered wavelength of light, meaning your eyes have to work extra hard to focus and make sense of it. This is part of what makes four hours of screen time harder on your eyes than 4 hours of reading a book.
Digital eye strain affects more than just your eyes. Yes, patients usually experience dry, gritty feeling eyes, a headache, or the sensation that they just can’t keep their eyes open; but it’s also common to notice back pain, neck pain, and even just trouble staying on task.
Mitigating Digital Eye Strain
One way to save your eyes from daily strain is to invest in computer glasses. Special lenses filter out some blue light, allowing your eyes to focus with less effort.
Optimizing your workspace will go a long way to preventing digital eye strain. Your computer should be roughly an arm’s length away from your face; the top of your screen should be just below eye level. Position your monitor so there is no glare obstructing your view. These small adjustments could make a huge impact in your comfort and productivity throughout the day.
Use the 20/20/20 Rule
Every 20 minutes, take a break from what you’re doing. Find an object that about 20 feet away from you, and stare at it for 20 seconds. By giving your eyes a chance to focus on something else, you’re letting your eye muscles take a quick break before going back to work. Think of it as getting up to stretch your legs after sitting down for a while.