Staring at your computer screen, smartphone or other digital devices for long periods won’t cause permanent eye damage, but your eyes may feel dry and tired. You may develop blurry vision, fatigue or eye strain. Some people also experience headaches or motion sickness when viewing 3-D, which may indicate that the viewer has a problem with focusing or depth perception.
What Causes Digital Related Eye Strain?
Normally, humans blink about 15 times a minute, but studies show we blink half to a third that often while using computers and other digital screen devices, whether for work or play. Extended reading, writing or other intensive “near work” can also cause eye strain.
- Sit about 25 inches, or arm’s length, from the computer screen. Position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
- Many devices now have glass screens with considerable glare. Reduce glare by using a matte screen filter if needed.
- Take regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry. Consider using a humidifier.
- If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
A note to contact lens users: Contact lenses can exacerbate eye dryness and irritation common to heavy users of computers and other digital devices often. Some tips:
- Give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.
- Don’t sleep in your contact lenses, even if they are labeled “extended wear.”
- Always use good cleaning practices.
If your eyes are consistently red, blurry or watery, or they become sensitive to light or painful, see our optometrist!