Computer eye strain perhaps isn’t something you think about a lot, but once it affects you, it’s hard not to notice.
Protecting eyes from computer screens and smartphones is more important than ever, but effectively tackling the problem is more about prevention than treatment.
Simple preventative measures help protect eyes from computer screens and smartphones, and we’re going to take a look at a few of those measures in this article.
Do Screens Make Your Eyesight Worse?
Digital Eye Strain (DES) is more common today than ever owing to the fact that virtually everybody uses a screen in daily life.
While not everyone spends every day looking at a computer screen, most people do use smartphones. Experts suggest that DES occurs in around 50% of computer users.
So, do screens make your eyesight worse? Well, the good news is that eye strain is not a long-term problem.
There is no evidence that strain makes your eyesight worse in the long run, but it does cause extreme discomfort and makes getting through a work day difficult.
Computer Eye Strain
What exactly is the screen’s effect on eyes? There are several symptoms to look out for, and they vary slightly depending on whether you use a computer or a smartphone. Let’s take a look at some of those symptoms, and how you can avoid them.
Computer Eye Strain Symptoms
The American Optometric Association recognizes the most common symptoms of eye strain are headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and in extreme cases, neck and shoulder pain.
When your eyes strain, they tell the rest of your body that something is wrong.
Dry eyes are caused by the fact that we subconsciously stop blinking while reading screens, and other pain responses are caused by the body signaling that something is wrong.
When you use a computer all day for work, these symptoms will arise after using a screen for prolonged periods of time.
Let’s take a look at how to protect eyes from screens.
How to Protect Eyes from Computer Screen
1. Use the 20/20/20 Rule
Your eyes aren’t designed to stare all day at something directly in front of you. With the 20/20/20 rule, you give your eyes a much-needed break during long work days.
If you look at the screen for 20 minutes, you must look at something at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. The longer you look away from your screen, though, the better!
2. Ensure Your Room is Well Lit
It may sound counterintuitive, but less light in your room is actually better for your eyes when you’re working on a computer. Offices shouldn’t be too bright, so when possible, close your curtains and reduce your use of fluorescent lighting.
Use lower voltage bulbs and make sure your ambient lighting is about half as bright as the average office.
3. Have Regular Eye Exams
Regular eye exams help you keep your eye health in check and ensure your problems aren’t worse than normal eye strain. It also gives you a great opportunity to talk to an expert about your habits and eye health!
4. Reduce Glare
Glare on your computer screen can cause eye strain as it stops your eyes adjusting as easily as they should to the content you’re trying to focus on.
Use an anti-glare matte screen where possible (rather than glass-covered LCDs). If you’re a glasses wearer, make sure your lenses have an anti-reflective coating.
5. Use High-Resolution screens
Most people don’t have to use CRT screens any more. Those are the old computer screens with low refresh rates that created a noticeable flicker that made your eyes feel uncomfortable.
Today, screens typically offer refresh rates of 75Hz or more. The higher the better. Furthermore, screens with higher resolutions appear more lifelike. When you can’t see the pixels, your eyes don’t work as hard to make sense of the images in front of you.
6. Reduce Blue Light
Blue light has a short wave-length and is known for causing damage to the eye. Reduce blue light by using specialist glasses or reduce the color temperature of your screen. It’s ideal for long-term use.
Mobile Phone Eye Strain
Just like computers, mobile phone screens present an opportunity to cause eye strain. The fact we use them in place of pen and paper for virtually everything means it’s something we all need to talk about. But how do phones affect your eyes?
Eye Strain from Phone Symptoms
Eye strain from phone symptoms are much the same as computer eye strain symptoms. Mobile phone eye strain may cause dry eye and irritation, painful throbbing headaches around the eye region, and even blurred vision.
However, we use our phones differently to computers. With computers, we may spend hours looking at a screen.
We use smartphones for short period of times throughout the day that can total hours of usage. This is better for the eyes, but if you’re straining when you use the device, it can mean these symptoms stay with you throughout the day without you realizing they’re a result of mobile phone eye strain.
Let’s take a look at how to protect eyes from phone screens.
How to Protect Eyes from Phone
1. Adjust Screen Settings
It’s easy to forget that your screen can be customized, because it looks fine straight out of the box! Everyone’s eyes are different, however, and all smartphones allow you to change contrast, brightness, and text settings.
Lower the brightness when you’re in your home, or turn on automatic brightness settings to let your phone adjust depending on your environment. Increase text size to make reading text messages easier, too!
2. Keep a Sensible Distance
You should be able to see everything on your phone screen from between 16 and 18 inches away. Don’t hold your phone too close, but if you find yourself bringing the phone closer, consider zooming in on your screen instead.
3. Use Night Mode
Modern Android and Apple smartphones offer night mode features that make it easy to automatically reduce strain on your eyes at night.Turn the feature on, and your phone will automatically adjust screen settings depending on the time of day.
4. Don’t Forget to Blink!
This might sound silly, but it’s easy to forget to blink when we’re using smartphones and tablets. Subconsciously, we become so focused on the content that we simply stare at the device.
Every time we blink, we’re keeping our eyes moist and refocusing our eyes. Do it often to avoid strain and dryness.
5. Use Anti-Reflective Screen Protectors
Smartphone screens are glossy, but matte screen protectors give you that old-screen LCD finish. They protect your screen and they reduce glare from ambient lights or sunshine. They’re inexpensive, too!
6. Use Artificial Tears
For all types of eyestrain, be it caused by computers or mobile devices, artificial tears can be an effective tool in keeping the eyes comfortably lubricated. There are many types of lubricating eye drops on the market — both with and without preservatives — that can be purchased over the counter. You may need to try several before you find the one you like best.
Important Advice for Protecting Your Eyes
Adjusting the brightness on your phone is important, but your phone can often do that automatically. The ambient light sensor on your device means the light will shift depending on how much light is already available. And, as mentioned, the night mode feature reduces the impact blue light has on your eyes.
The warmer the screen color, the better. Long wavelengths are better for you, so it’s important to reduce the amount of blue light you see.
Still struggling? Don’t fret. At the Kraff Eye Institute in Chicago, we have some of the country’s best eye specialists who can diagnose problems, offer excellent treatment and care, and help you make the most of your eyes.
Schedule your appointment today with one of our highly skilled doctors, learn more about your eyes and how we can help improve your vision. We also have some excellent videos online where you can learn about common eye problems and how we fix them.
Keep these tips in mind whenever you’re using your phone or computer, and you’ll be set for protecting your eyes. Don’t forget to take those breaks, too!