Digital Eye Fatigue
Now that most of us are confined to our homes during this shelter in place our screen time has drastically increased. Many of us are working from home on our computers or laptops, streaming shows from our digital devices, and have probably noticed that our average screen time on our phones have exponentially increased. In doing so, digital eye strain or eye fatigue has also increased. What are symptoms of digital eye fatigue? Symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Eye strain and discomfort
- Dry, scratchy eyes
- Tired eyes
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
Symptoms can be exacerbated through prolonged computer or digital device use, glare from digital screens, poor lighting, and is normally worse towards the end of the day. Even if your symptoms are mild, they can worsen and cause other vision problems if not addressed. Our optometrists can help!
Diagnosis and Treatment of Computer Vision Syndrome
The severity and length of computer vision syndrome symptoms depend on how long you stare at the computer, your posture, lighting, glare, the angle of the monitor, and whether or not you have other diagnosed or undiagnosed vision problems. If you already suffer from astigmatism, farsightedness, presbyopia, aging eyes, and/or diabetic eye problems, your computer vision symptoms may worsen. This can even be the case if you already have prescription contacts or glasses. Many regular eyeglasses and contact lenses are not designed to deflect the problems caused by computer screens.
Our doctors will take your symptoms, pre-existing conditions, and potential undiagnosed conditions into account as they perform the following eye tests:
- Visual acuity—Measures the quality of your current vision.
- Refraction—Tests the potential lens prescriptions that would optimize your vision.
- Focus and Eye Coordination—Tests how well your eyes work together and how quickly and accurately your eyes can focus on objects and varying distances.
From these measurements, our doctors can design a treatment plan to help relieve your symptoms. Various treatment options exist whether it is prescribing a customized near variable focus computer pair of glasses or opting in for blue blocker glasses to minimize blue light exposure. Anti-reflective coating with blue blockers has been immensely helpful for most patients. More research and evidence is needed, but preliminary studies show that they are effective at reducing eye fatigue and helping with regulating sleep at night.In addition, exposure to blue light has been shown to affect the body’s production of melatonin level and increase neurophysiological arousal. Patients prone to insomnia or migraines may especially benefit from wearing blue block glasses. Please remember that not all blue blocker glasses are made with the same quality. Please contact our office so one of our trained ophthalmic technicians can go through the different options of blue block lenses with you.
In addition to these treatment options, there are other things we can suggest alleviating computer eye strain problems:
- Computer setup—Adjust your monitor so that it is about 15-20 degrees lower than your eye level when seated between 20-28 inches away from the screen. Reference materials can be placed on a document holder between the monitor and keyboard, or to the side, but positioned for as little head movement as possible. Also, invest in an anti-glare screen for your monitor to help reduce glare from surrounding lights. Be sure to sit and work with proper posture.
- Adjust Lighting—If you can, reposition any lighting (or your computer) to minimize glare and use natural lighting whenever possible.
- Eye Rest and Blinking Breaks—One helpful exercise to help alleviate symptoms is following the 20/20 rule which consists of taking a 20 second break to view something 20 feet away. I normally ask patients to do this every hour at the hour in addition to closing their eyes for 20 seconds to give their eyes a break. Also, remember to blink more frequently to keep your eyes moist. Some patients find it helpful to keep a water bottle and/or a bottle of artificial tears to keep both their body and eyes hydrated regularly.