What is Digital Eyestrain & How to Prevent it

By Shelby Jenuwine, Contributing Writer

Digital Eyestrain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is a group of eye and vision-related complications that result from prolonged exposure to blue light. The largest source of blue light is sunlight. However, several other sources include digital screens (televisions, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones), other electronic devices, as well as fluorescent and LED lighting. There is concern in the long-term effects of blue light exposure, as too much exposure can damage the light sensitive cells in the retina. Because the eyes are working particularly hard to cope with the high-energy visible light, individuals may begin to experience eye strain. Eye strain can cause changes that are similar to those of macular degeneration, which can result in permanent vision loss.

Extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of digital eyestrain. Individuals who stare at displays for two or more consecutive hours every day have an increased risk of this condition. Many individuals may experience one or several symptoms, including dry eyes, blurred vision, headache, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing.

Digital Eyestrain Prevention

To help prevent digital eyestrain consider adjusting the lighting in the room, taking occasional breaks to rest the eyes, limit screen time, use artificial tears to keep eyes from becoming dry, improve the air quality by using a humidifier and choose the correct eyewear, such as lenses designed specifically for computer work. Eyeglasses are available with lenses to enhance magnification, plus anti-reflective and blue light-filtering capabilities, as well as select contact lenses to help reduce symptoms of digital eyestrain.

Individuals who work at a desk using a computer for prolonged periods of time can take additional self-care steps to help diminish eyestrain. These steps include, but are not limited to:

  • Blinking more frequently to refresh the eyes;
  • Adjusting the lighting to reduce glare:
  • Positioning the computer monitor to eye level; and
  • Adjusting the contrast and brightness to a comfortable level.