What causes computer eye strain?
Extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of eyestrain in the United States. The American Optometric Association refers to this phenomenon as computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain. People who view computer screens for more than two hours in a row every day are at the highest risk for this condition.
The use of computers strains eyes more than reading print material because people tend to also do the following:
- Blink less frequently while using computers, thereby drying out eyes quicker
- View computer or digital device screens at unideal distances or angles
- Use devices while there is a glare or a reflection
- Use devices with insufficient contrast between the text and the background
- In some cases, an underlying eye problem like muscle weakness or uncorrected vision can cause or worsen computer eyestrain.
Steps for Reducing Computer-related Eye Strain
- Take regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule, every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Blink as frequently as possible when looking at a digital monitor
- Adjust monitor brightness- a brighter screen reduces eye strain
- Use incandescent light bulbs without any high intensity lighting, balancing light at the computer workstation as much as possible
- Adjust monitor position, ideally the screen should be 20 degrees below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes
- Make sure screen has a high resolution for sharper type and imagery
- Minimize any glare by regularly cleaning the screen
- Massage areas around the eyes
- Take vitamins and minerals for eye health like vitamins A, C, E, B complex and the mineral Zinc
- Schedule an eye exam to ensure optimum eye health
Other Sources of Eye Strain
In addition to computer usage, there are other risks for eye fatigue such as:
- Reading without pauses to rest the eyes
- Driving long distances without breaks
- Exposure to bright light or glare
- Straining to see objects in very poorly lit areas
- Being fatigued in general adds to eye strain
- Exposure to external elements like fans, heating or air-conditioning systems
According to the American Optometric Association, “The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home.” That means there are many Americans spending twice that amount of time on their computers. It’s imperative that people are aware that this activity has a huge impact on their quality of eyesight. So get outside and give your eyes a break every once in awhile!
Dr. Travis Zigler