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We live in a digital society. The average American spends seven hours a day looking at digital devices, according to the American Optometric Association. Unfortunately, looking at electronic screens for more than two hours in a row every day can cause digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

Eye fatigue and discomfort are common among digital device users, but these symptoms are not caused by the screen itself. Radiation from computer screens are below levels that can cause eye damage such as cataracts. However, screens do expose your eyes to blue light, which may increase the risk of macular degeneration. When blue light reaches the inner lining of the back of the eye, called the retina, the light-sensitive cells in the retina are at risk of damage.

Overexposing your eyes to your device’s blue light can cause a range of health issues. Adults report blurred vision, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and dry eyes. The Vision Council reports that children who spend at least 20 percent of their time on digital devices have similar symptoms, as well as irritability, reduced attention spans, and poor behavior. 

So, what can you do to counteract the effects of digital eye strain or reduce symptoms and serious health problems? Here are five tips:

  1. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: After 20 minutes of exposure, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. When you do this, you force your eyes to refocus and removes the blue light exposure for a short time.
  2. Check Your Lighting: Bright light, especially from fluorescent lights and sunlight, can make it difficult to see your monitor. Too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see. Consider turning off some or all of the overhead lights. If you need light for writing or reading, use an adjustable desk lamp. Close blinds or shades, and avoid placing your monitor directly in front of a window or white wall. Place an anti-glare cover over the screen.
  3. Filter out the Blue Light: Many devices have built-in features to filter out blue light. Change your settings on your smartphone, tablet and laptop or use a third-party app.
  4. Blink Often and Take Breaks: Refresh your eyes by blinking more often. Many people blink less when working at a computer, which can contribute to dry eyes. Blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh your eyes.It’s also helpful to walk away from your device whenever you’re able to take a break.
  5. Set an Alarm: Late-night exposure to blue light can disrupt your body’s ability to fall asleep. Remind yourself when to shut down with a daily alarm set one hour before bed.

Schedule an eye exam: The best way to take care of your eyes and diagnose and treat computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain is to meet with one of our doctors of optometry. They can help you take the first step toward healthier eyes with a regular comprehensive exam and recommend eyewear to help reduce the effects of digital eye strain. 

Contact us today to schedule your annual eye exam.