7 Tips for Protecting Your Eyes From Digital Eye Strain
You put in your new contacts and love how clearly you can see. Everything looks crisp and clean. But, after spending hours at your computer, the crisp vision is gone. Everything is a bit blurry. Not only that, but you get headaches and your eyes are irritated.
What happened? You forgot to protect your eyes from digital eye strain! But don’t worry. It’s not permanent and there are many things you can do to keep it at bay. Here are our 7 tips to stop eye strain from occurring.
What Is Digital Eye Strain?
Eye strain isn’t a disease, it’s an eye condition with the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Excessive tears
- Inability to keep eyes open
- Light sensitivity
For many people, eye strain comes from looking at something for long periods of time. When you get eye strain from staring at electronic devices, such as computer screens, cell phones and tablets, it’s called digital eye strain.
However, digital eye strain does not require you to quit using digital devices. Instead, you should follow these helpful tips.
Tip #1: Take Breaks
If you have to work at a computer for more than four hours, take breaks throughout the day. The best way to do this is by using the 20-20-20 method. It’s easy:
- Take a break every 20 minutes
- Make the break last 20 seconds
- While breaking from the digital screen, look at something 20 feet away
As an added bonus, taking breaks actually helps productivity. So if you are at work, breaking to reduce digital eye strain could make you a better employee. On top of taking these 20-second breaks, you should also get up from the digital monitor for five minutes every hour. Make sure to also stretch your neck and back during this time.
Tip #2: Remember to Blink
Did you know that you don’t blink as often when looking at a digital screen? It’s true. Less blinking, especially for those wearing contacts, leads to dry eyes. Blinking produces tears. Without enough tears, your eyes will get dry. It will also feel uncomfortable to wear your contacts since there’s less lubrication. On the other hand, if you take plenty of breaks but still have dry eyes, there is another option. Give rewetting drops a try. If you wear contacts, get drops that are compatible with contact lenses.
Tip #3: Rearrange Your Office
There are probably many things about your office arrangement that can lead to digital eye strain. Here are a few to consider:
- Your monitor location: Your monitor should be at least 20 inches away. You should also look slightly down at your monitor. Put it to the side of windows rather than in front of or behind them.
- Windows: Be sure to close the curtains or lower the blinds to eliminate harsh sunlight and glare. If you don’t have window coverings, purchase some.
- Fluorescent lighting: If possible, don’t work under fluorescent lighting. If you have to, then try full spectrum fluorescent bulbs.
- Low light: Just as bright lights are bad for your eyes, low lighting is as well. Struggling to see with dim lights can lead to eye strain. Try using lamps in darker areas.
Tip #4: Change Your Monitor’s Settings
All computer monitors come with display settings, but it's easy to forget about this. By changing your settings, you can eliminate digital eye strain. Here are some things you can adjust:
- Brightness: Make the brightness of your monitor the same as the brightness of your office. Stand back from your desk and look at the monitor. If it looks like a flashlight or lamp, then turn down the brightness. If it looks grey, then turn it up.
- Text size: Adjust the text size so that reading web pages from 20 to 26 inches away is comfortable.
- Contrast: Contrast is the colour difference between the words on the page and the background. For most people, black words on a white background work best.
- Colour temperature: The higher the colour temperature, the more blue light your computer monitor gives out. Blue light causes eye strain. Lower the colour temperature for more comfort.
Tip #5: Do Eye Exercises
The longer you stare at a screen, the more likely you are to develop digital eye strain. So, ion top of the 20-20-20 routine, there are some other eye exercises you can do:
- Far and near: Look at something that is far away for 10 seconds. Immediately switch to something that is close by for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times.
- Eye rolling: Without moving your head and neck, look up at the ceiling. Circle your eyes in a clockwise direction until you get back to the ceiling. Do this seven times then blink for a minute straight. Repeat, including the blinking. But this time, do counterclockwise circles.
- Palming: Put your palms over your eyes, with your fingertips on your forehead. Do not touch your eyes. Instead, just create a dark cave for them.
Tip #6: Use Computer Eyewear
Sometimes, your current prescription is not right for deskwork. This is especially true for those who need progressive lenses or bifocals. Your eye doctor can help you find the perfect prescription for computer use. This may consist of:
- A specific prescription for computer use
- Photochromic or lightly tinted lenses to block out blue light
- Breathable contact lenses
Tip #7: Visit an Eye Doctor to See How to Protect Your Eyes
No matter what, you should have your eyes checked every year. When you see your eye doctor, be sure to tell them about your computer usage. Once your doctor understands your situation, he or she can thoroughly check your vision. You can also get further tips on how to avoid digital eye strain.
Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to avoid using digital devices. However, by following these 7 tips, you can avoid the eye strain that often accompanies digital screen use. So, get back to work, but do so safely!