What is Eye Strain?
Eye strain is a common condition that occurs when your eyes get tired from the intense use of driving long distances or staring at a computer screen and other digital devices.
Generally, eye strain can be treated with simple and non-invasive methods. A prolonged eye strain or eye irritation may be a sign of something more and it should be discussed with an ophthalmologist or an optician.
Common Causes of Eye Strain
- Blurry vision.
- An irritated eye that may be red or feel dry.
- Pain or strain in the neck, shoulder, or back.
One of the biggest causes of eyestrain is the daily use of digital screens for several hours at a time. Other common causes of eye strain include:
- Focusing on a single task for a long period of time such as driving or reading.
- Being in an inadequately lighted environment, either too dim or too bright.
- Feeling stressed or tired.
- Experiencing poor vision or eye problems like dry eyes.
Some Specific Causes of Digital Eyestrain
- Maintaining poor posture when viewing a digital device.
- Failing to blink as often as normal.
- Holding a digital device too far or too close to your eyes.
- Being exposed to extended amounts of blue light, which is the light commonly emitted from digital devices.
- Viewing a screen that doesn’t have a properly adjusted lighting.
Tips for Preventing Eye Strain
1. Follow the 20-20-20 rules
When making use of digital devices such as computers, smartphones, or tablets you should shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
2. Position your screen
Ensure you are looking at your digital device at the correct distance and in a proper position. The screen should be a few feet away from your eyes, or about arm’s length. You should view the screen at the level of your eyes or slightly below them. This goes for handheld digital devices too, they should be read at below eye level.
3. Use the right light
Lighting can cause eyestrain; it can either be too dim or too bright, depending on the activity. If you are reading, the light focus should come from behind you. Also, dim the light when watching TV, it will reduce eyestrain.
4. Use eye drops
Intense focus, particularly when viewing a screen, can result in a dramatic reduction in how many times you blink per minute. When you blink less, your eyes can get dry and irritated.
5. Check the air
Constantly staying in a dry or polluted environment with fans, heating, and cooling units may cause eye strain. So, you may want to:
- Improve the air with a humidifier
- Turn down the heating and cooling system
- Relocate to a spot that doesn’t have the same air issues
6. Wear proper eyewear
Consult your doctor to determine if you need special eyewear to reduce eyestrain. Doing this will help determine if you need a specialized lens, device, or eye therapy for the activities that cause strain.
7. Try to spend less time on digital devices
When you engage with digital devices for a lengthy amount of time, you expose yourself to blue light, which may be harmful to your eyes in the long term. Blue light can cause
- Problems with your retina
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Sleep disturbances
Specialized lenses can reduce your exposure to blue light. Maintaining your eye health is key to reducing more serious vision problems in the future. If you find out you have symptoms of eye strain, implement some methods to reduce eyestrain or prevent it altogether.