Save Your Vision: How to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
Did you know that March is National Save Your Vision Month?
Vision loss is often seen as an anticipated side effect of aging. It’s not uncommon to be suffering from some form of impairment by the time you approach 50. However, is old age truly to blame?
In an effort to promote eye health, the American Optometric Association is reminding everyone, especially older adults, that the biggest threat to your vision isn’t growing old – it’s screens.
Due to an increase in digital technology, the average American spends over 1o hours per day staring at screens. This prolonged exposure to TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets is the root cause for a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as Digital Eye Strain (DES). Symptoms of DES inlcude eye pain, headaches, blurred vision, light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, and gradual sight impairment.
Digital Eye Strain can be a very serious condition. However, there is a silver lining: the condition is not only treatable, but easily preventable if proper steps are taken. Whether you’re trying to protect your 20/20 vision or prevent your aging eyes from getting worse, here are some quick tips for combating eye strain.
Use proper lighting.
When using a computer or tablet, ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. Eye strain often occurs from excessively bright light either from sunlight or harsh interior lighting.
To reduce your risk, eliminate as much exterior light as possible. Be sure to reduce interior lighting by using fluorescent lighting or lower intensity bulbs. Always position your monitor with windows to the side of the screen, instead of in front or behind.
Glare off of walls, finished surfaces, and even reflections off the computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and try to work in rooms with darker wall colors.
Blink more often.
Blinking is crucial when looking at any screen for excessive periods of time. Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. Stop every few minutes to excessively blink or even shut your eyes for a few seconds.
Beware the “Blue Light.”
Digital screens produce blue light. Not only is this light a source of eye strain, it’s also been proven to disrupt the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder for you to fall asleep. To reduce the blue light effects, try an app called F.lux. This app gives your screen an amber tint after sundown– reducing the amount of blue light emitted.
Exercise the eyes.
To reduce the issue of tired eyes, try the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from your screen and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This simple exercise relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.
Another exercise to try is to look at an object in the distance for about 10 seconds, then focus on an object up close for about 10 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Repeat this exercise about 10 times.
Quick Tips To Reduce Eye Strain
- Place screens at least 20 inches away and slightly down from the field of vision.
- Do your best to keep screens clean of smudges.
- Use artificial tears or a warm, moist wash cloth to wet dry eyes.
Of course, the most important resource for preventing Digital Eye Strain is your eye doctor. If your symptoms of eye strain don’t improve, or get progressively worse, make an appointment with an eye care professional immediately to rule out any other potential causes.
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