We spend hours each day staring at screens (at work/home, on the bus, and outside). It’s not surprising therefore that most of us will experience digital eye strain at some point in our lives.
What is Eyestrain?
Eyestrain is a group of symptoms that develop when your eyes are tired from either reading, looking at a computer screen or driving for too long. Digital Eyestrain is caused by spending a lot of time staring at a computer. These symptoms are temporary, disappearing when you rest your eyes. Hence, it is possible to prevent them from developing altogether.
What are the common symptoms of Digital Eyestrain?
- Blurred vision when looking at a computer
- Blurred vision when looking into the distance (this is how I first noticed when I got eyestrain).
- Irritating or burning eyes
- Dry eyes
- Tired eyes
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Eye discomfort
What causes Digital Eye Strain?
Computer screens emit blue light. At high doses, it can permanently damage the eyes, but research has shown that computer devices emit very low doses that can’t damage our eyes (even with long-term exposure). However, eyestrain still plagues some of us from time to time.
Here are 5 ways you can prevent eyestrain:
1. Get computer glasses
These glasses have a yellow tint to filter out the blue light emitted by your device. They don’t have to be expensive. You can pick these up from any optician/optometrist, even on Amazon. I bought mine from a local store for only $10.
2. Mind your lighting
- Your screen should not give out any light to its surroundings. It must have the same brightness level as its surroundings. Your device is not a lamp! Adjust your screen’s brightness depending on where you are. Make it brighter in a well lit room, and dimmer in lower lighting.
- It is better to work in low lighting. Of course, this only works if you’re completely paperless. If you’re still using some paper, make sure you have adequate lighting for your paperwork. Adjust your computer screen accordingly.
- Turn on True tone on your device. It is easier on your eyes than the white background. If your device lacks this feature, change your colour temperature. Warmer colour temperature is better than cold.
- Dark mode is better for your eyes during the night or in dark areas.
3. Avoid and decrease glare
- Screens are reflective surfaces. They can reflect anything, especially bright lights and shapes. Therefore, avoid sitting directly below a light source or near closed windows (if they are low lying).
- Some angles are better for avoiding glare. Put your device at an angle (rather than flat on the table) when sitting under a light or near a window.
- Increasing the brightness of your device can help decrease reflections. However, the high brightness levels will drain your battery faster, especially if you’re using an iPad.
4. The 20-20-20 rule
Most doctors suggest this. When working on a computer, every 20 minutes, look at an object that’s 20 ft away (that’s about 6m) for 20 seconds. This works for people with short concentration spans.
How much work do I get done doing that? I have a concentration span of about an hour and a half. Short repetitive breaks don’t work for me. I need to focus for hours at a time. So I came up with my own recommendation. It’s working great so far.
When I am outside the house, I don’t look at my phone or iPad. I am that weird person you’ll find at a cafe staring outside into the distance or watching people. When everyone is staring at their phone, I am just sitting there. I hardly play music, so I probably look creepy or very old fashioned. You decide.
5. Put cucumbers on your eyes
When you’ve had an especially tiring day and your eyes feel heavy and tired, put some cucumbers on your eyes. Let your eyes tear up. It helps to press on the cucumber just a little bit. No, this is not a beauty tip. And yes, it will make you feel better.