EyeWise Vision Clinic

Digital Eye Strain: What It Is and How to Prevent It

In today’s fast-paced digital age, our lives are intertwined with screens more than ever before. From work tasks to entertainment, our reliance on digital devices is undeniable. However, this constant screen exposure has given rise to a concerning issue: digital eye strain. 

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, often referred to as computer vision syndrome, refers to a group of eye or vision-related problems that result from the prolonged use of screens from computers, tablets, and cellphones. Recently, digital eye strain has become a prevalent concern, with around 50% of computer users becoming more susceptible to this condition, according to the National Institute of Medicine

With this, it’s crucial more than ever that individuals who constantly use screens in their daily lives are aware of digital eye strain and ways to prevent its effects. 

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain manifests in various ways, making it imperative to identify the signs early on. Common symptoms include:

  • Eye ache
  • Dryness, itching, or burning in the eyes
  • Difficulty focusing on objects, especially after staring at screens for extended periods
  • Recurring headaches, which are often accompanied by sensitivity to light
  • Neck and shoulder tension due to strain in the upper body due to poor posture while using devices

Factors That Contribute to Digital Eye Strain

Several factors contribute to the development of digital eye strain:

  • Screen Glare and Reflection: Poor lighting conditions and screen glare force your eyes to work harder to decipher the content.
  • Extended Screen Time: Spending prolonged hours staring at screens without breaks strains your eyes since you blink less. And when you blink less, your eyes lose moisture, causing dry eyes.
  • Screen Distance and Angle: Inappropriate screen distance and angle can lead to uncomfortable viewing positions.

How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Preventing digital eye strain does not require a complete digital detox; rather, you only need to adopt healthier habits. Here are some habits to implement to prevent digital eye strain:

1. Take Breaks

The “20-20-20” rule is a simple yet effective technique to alleviate digital eye strain. Every 20 minutes, pause your screen time and shift your focus to an object situated around 20 feet away. Maintain this gaze for at least 20 seconds. This will prevent you from straining your eyes and encourage you to blink more, giving your eyes the much-needed hydration. Implementing the 20-20-20 rule consistently throughout your digital activities can go a long way in maintaining your eye comfort.

2. Adjust Your Screen Settings

Modify your screen settings to suit your eye’s comfort level. Adjust the screen brightness and contrast to reduce glare and eye fatigue. Opt for a font size that ensures easy readability without squinting. Furthermore, enable the blue light filters on your device. These filters counteract the harsh effects of blue light emission, which can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to eye strain.

3. Ergonomic Workspace Setup

Creating an ergonomic workspace is pivotal in the fight against digital eye strain. Ensure your screen is positioned at eye level, allowing you to view content without straining your neck or eyes. Maintain an appropriate chair and desk height to encourage a neutral posture, preventing undue stress on your upper body. A well-organised workspace not only supports your eye health but also contributes to overall comfort during extended screen use.

4. Stay Hydrated 

Amidst our digital engagements, we often forget the importance of hydration. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is essential for maintaining eye moisture and preventing dry eyes. Proper hydration also helps in reducing eye irritation caused by prolonged screen exposure. Keep a water bottle handy and set reminders to ensure you’re nourishing your eyes from within.

5. Use Blue-Light Protection Glasses

Incorporating blue light-blocking glasses into your routine is a smart move towards safeguarding your eyes from digital eye strain. These specialised glasses act as a shield against the harmful blue light emitted by digital screens. By reducing blue light penetration, they minimise the strain on your eyes and contribute to better sleep quality. 

When Digital Eye Strain Results in Dry Eyes

When digital eye strain is left unaddressed and unmanaged, one of the conditions you may develop is dry eyes. If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eyes, such as eye irritation or a burning sensation in your eyes, you can schedule an appointment at our dry eyes clinic. Our experts at EyeWise Vision can conduct eye check-ups to provide the treatment you need to help alleviate the effects of dry eyes

For more tips on caring for your eyes, check out what you need to know about diabetic eye screening.

Dr. Christopher Khng, specializes in Complex Cataract and Anterior Segment Reconstruction Surgery, in particular, Iris Reconstruction and surgery for Aniridia. His other areas of expertise include Complex Lens surgery, New Lens and Phacoemulsification technologies, Refractive surgery, Phakic IOLs (the Implantable Collamer Lens, ICL), and small-incision, topical anesthesia phacoemulsification cataract surgery. Dr. Khng is a member of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA), a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), and the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ECSRS). He is registered with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in Singapore and with the General Medical Council (GMC) for practice in the United Kingdom.