What to do about Digital Eye Strain

Posted: May 8, 2020 11:30 AM PT | Last updated May 8, 2020


Do I have Digital Eye Strain (Computer Vision Syndrome)?

Now that many of us are practicing self isolating, social distancing, and working from home, we find ourselves at home using tablets, computers and our mobile devices at higher rates. With this comes increased rates of eye strain and visual discomfort, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain causes dry eyes, headaches in the temporal and/or frontal area of the head, and/or blurred vision at near and in the distance.

Why do my eyes hurt?

Using a computer, tablet and cellphone screen is a visually demanding task for your eyes. This is due to reduced contrast sensitivity of letters to the screens background, increased glare from screens, letters not being precise and as sharply defined off of screens versus paper, reduced blinking with near work, and increased time focusing at near or intermediate distances which causes us to overwork our focusing system (accommodation ability). This is called Digital Eye Strain, or Computer Eye Syndrome

How long does Computer Eye Syndrome Last

Computer Eye Syndrome is caused by the length of time you spend on digital devices. The longer you are viewing digital screens, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome and it can also worsen your symptoms. Several hours spent in front of the screen can cause 1 hour+ of eye strain. If you spent less than several hours on a device, your symptoms should last 10-20 minutes. This will also vary depending on each person’s situation. Please contact us for an appointment if your eye strain continues.

What do I do if I have Computer Vision Syndrome

There are several treatment options for Computer Vision Syndrome. A combination of one or more of these treatments can be beneficial. These include: 

20/20/20 Visual Hygiene Rule: This is the easiest solution to implement and does not cost anything. Every 20 minutes of near or intermediate work, look 20 feet (about 6 meters) away for 20 seconds. This helps relax your focusing system (accommodation system).

Use Blue Blocker Lenses: These lenses will block a certain range of wavelengths of blue light  being emitted off of the computer, tablet and cell phone screens. Blue blocker lenses can help reduce eye strain experienced from reduced contrast sensitivity off of screens.  For more info on blue blocker lenses check out our article here.

Anti-fatigue Lenses: These lenses have a small amount of ADD (plus prescription) to help reduce strain on the focusing system. They can help when patients that have an underlying condition of accommodative insufficiency (near focusing difficulty). 

Working Distance: Maintaining an appropriate working distance with near work helps to reduce how much your eyes need to focus with near activities. Your near viewing distance should be at least 40cm away from your eyes or further to reduce the load on your focusing system (accommodation system). 

Preservative free artificial tears: Reduced blinking with near work is a habitual response of your eyes with prolonged near work. This can increase the dryness in your eyes. Symptoms of dryness include burning, stinging, pain, redness, and foreign body sensation (feeling like something is in your eyes). Using a preservative free artificial tear 2-6x/day can help alleviate symptoms of dryness. We recommend I Pure Artificial tears. 

Vision therapy: Vision therapy is a program of eye exercises designed to treat underlying accommodative insufficiency  (inability of the eyes to sustain focus at near for extended periods of time), saccadic dysfunction (which is insufficient or inaccurate visual tracking eye movements required in reading or copying) and other binocular vision issues with the eyes. We do offer Vision Therapy at our clinic. Consultations with our Optometrists can be arranged by calling our office directly. 

Ergonomics: correct sitting posture on the computer is also important and will reduce eye strain.


Source: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome