The use of technological devices is almost unavoidable since they play such a significant role in our everyday lives. People start off their day by checking the weather or their emails on their phones. During the work day people are constantly in front of their computer, now even all in-person meetings are now on zoom due to COVID. Exercise after work can at times include staring at another screen, such as the screen for the peloton bike or a phone screen for certain workout apps. Then back to the phone to order food or look up a recipe for dinner. Finally, the end of the day consists of more screen time by either checking social media or watching a show on television.
Eye strain occurs when your eyes become fatigued after using them intensely for extended periods of time. It takes approximately two hours of staring at a screen for eye strain to set in. Eye strain can be uncomfortable and can lead to symptoms such as blurred vision, burning eyes, itching eyes, light sensitivity, sore and tired eyes. Eye strain can also lead to headaches which can additionally reduce your ability to concentrate. Also, due to our posture while using our technological devices neck, shoulder and upper back pain is common. In addition, excess screen time can negatively affect our sleep and mood.
One study displayed that 64%-90% of computer users reported either eyestrain, dry eye or headaches. According to another study from the Headache Research Foundation in Boston, screen exposure triggered significantly more head pain for people with chronic headache. They concluded that eye strain factors are “far more important than is generally recognized” for people with chronic head pain. Additionally, the American Optometric Association defines Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) as a group of vision-related issues that come from long-term use of devices. Common symptoms of CVS include eyestrain, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain and headaches.
Tips for Screen Use:
· Take a break from your devices. For example, follow the 20-20-20 rule developed by The American Optometric Society. During screen time sessions take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to look at an object or person that’s 20 feet away.
· Adjust the lighting in the room to prevent glare. When using screens, darken the room (either by closing the blinds, or dimming the lighting) so your screen has less light to reflect.
· Consider an anti-glare cover.
· Invest in a proper ergonomic workspace.
· Use eye drops such as artificial tears, which can be found over the counter. These can help prevent dry eyes that can lead to eye strain.
· Use lenses that filter out blue light or are designed to help prevent eye strain.
· Trial apps such as “f.lux” that alter the computer screen to mimic the time of day.
· Avoid screen time two hours before bed.
· Print certain things out.
· Invest in a larger screen to help make certain documents easier to read.
By: Caroline Pruski, NP