Digital Eye Strain: What It Is & How to Prevent It

Digital Eye Strain: What It Is & How to Prevent It 65bba532c3efb.jpeg

Digital Eye Strain: What It Is & How to Prevent It

We live in a digital age where man and technology have formed a tight-knit bond, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets – these aren’t just luxuries anymore, but rather an extension of our way of life (a lifeline, if you will). There’s no telling where we’d be without them.

I mean, the statistics don’t lie.


83% of Americans use digital screen devices for 2+ hours per day, and 70% of Americans say their children’s digital device use exceeds 2+ hours per day. In general, people average seven hours of digital screen time per day, and the average American checks their phone 96 times per day – we spend 2.5 hours on social media daily.


This might be a way of life for most people out there, but it’s important to understand the dangers of too much digital screen time – more specifically, the damage it can do to your vision and eye health. Digital eye strain is a real medical condition and can result in pain, discomfort, vision impairment, or even vision loss.


What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain (DES), also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), is a group of vision problems and eye health issues primarily caused by excessive or improper screen use. While it’s possible to experience eye strain while reading a book, the eyes have to work much harder when reading a screen.


Here are some of the most common physical and visual symptoms of digital eye strain:


  • Pain and/or discomfort in the eyes, neck, or shoulder
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision, double vision, or distorted vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye redness, eye itching, and/or eye tearing

Computer vision syndrome can be diagnosed with a
comprehensive eye exam and treated with eye drops, glasses and/or contact lenses, lifestyle changes, and environmental changes. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – if you want to preserve your vision, you must care for your eyes.

Risk Factors & Causes of Digital Eye Strain

One of the best things you can do for your eyes is understand what they like and what they don’t like. When you can identify why your eyes are feeling strained and what’s causing them to feel that way, you can better avoid those triggers and prevent any further damage.

Here are some of the most common causes and risk factors of digital eye strain:

  • Screen glare and/or poor lighting
  • Poor posture while sitting in front of the computer
  • Sitting or staring too close to the screen
  • Viewing a digital screen at an inopportune angle
  • Having pre-existing vision problems
  • Spending several hours in front of a screen per day
  • Wearing glasses that aren’t suitable for computers
  • Not taking breaks while looking at a digital screen

A lot of us rely on technology for work and other hobbies, so it might be hard to limit screen exposure at times. If that’s the case, then make some changes to your environment, lifestyle, behaviors, and habits to ensure your eyes aren’t being overworked. Don’t worry – we have some useful tips for you below!



What’s the 20-20-20 Rule?

If you spend a lot of your day in front of a computer or staring at your phone, then the 20-20-20 rule can help you reduce damage to the eyes from excessive screen use by encouraging more frequent breaks. The rule is simple: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds.

This not only acts as a reminder to blink, but gives your eyes an opportunity to rest and relax – many people prefer to look out the window and take in all that nature has to offer. If you need help reminding yourself to give your eyes a break, set a timer for every 20 minutes you spend in front of the computer.

Prevention Tips When Viewing a Computer

There’s a science – an art, if you will – to viewing a computer. If you’re interested in a more optimal viewing experience that promotes eye health and safety, then there are several factors that need to be taken into account when computer users sit down in front of a computer – factors most people never think to consider.

Here are some of our most prominent tips to prevent eye strain while using a computer:

  • Make sure the computer is 15-20 degrees (4-5 inches) below eye level
  • Make sure the computer is 20-28 inches from the face
  • Place reference materials and other documents above the keyboard or below the monitor to reduce head and neck movement
  • Position the screen in a way that prevents a screen glare and use light bulbs with low wattage for desk lamps
  • Invest in a screen glare filter
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and you have good posture while sitting
  • Make sure you blink often to moisturize and lubricate the eyes

And don’t forget about the 20-20-20 rule – it applies to computers, tablets, smartphones, televisions, and any other screen that grabs your attention. The more you protect and preserve your vision, the more effective it’ll be when called upon and the less pain you’ll be in when needed – it’s a win-win scenario.

Glasses Designed for Screen Use

Did you know they make custom glasses and contact lenses designed specifically for screen use? What they do is they help your eyes focus at a close distance – usually around two feet, which is about how far away the computer screen is from your eyes – which helps reduce the unwanted symptoms of eye strain.

Some ‘computer glasses’ also feature blue light filtering. Some studies suggest that the excess blue light emitted from screens might play a role in the development or onset of eye strain. By filtering the blue light before it enters the eye, you can help reduce the damage it has on vision, eye health, and eye function.

Contact Milwaukee Eye Surgeons Today

Do you spend large amounts of your day in front of a computer screen? Are you constantly staring at your digital devices for hours at a time? Do your eyes hurt, or is your vision worsening as a result of your excessive exposure to digital screens? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then it’s time to
visit your eye doctor.

Don’t worry – your trusted team at
Milwaukee Eye Surgeons is ready to help you optimize your life to better account for eye health and vision preservation. To learn more about how to prevent digital eye strain and how you can receive a little relief from the pain and discomfort, contact our office today!

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