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.
How a Computer Screen Affects Your Eyes
How exactly does the screen affect your eyes? There are several signs to look out for, they can vary slightly depending on whether you use a computer or a smartphone. Let’s take a look at some of those complaints, and discuss how you can avoid them. The American Optometric Association recognizes the most common symptoms of eye strain are:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- In extreme cases, neck and shoulder pain.
When looking at a high resolution screen, we subconsciously blink less, other pain responses can also decrease causing the body to not signal that something is wrong. This is particularly common with computer use and is called “computer vision syndrome”. Over long periods of time, this can be harmful to your overal eye health. When working on a computer all day, these symptoms can arise after using a screen for prolonged periods of time.
Let’s take a look at how to protect your 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 to keep your eye health in check and ensure any problems you might be having aren’t anything other than normal eye strain. It also provides you an excellent 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.
How Does a Mobile Screen Affect Your Eyes?
Just like computers, mobile phone screens can present an opportunity for eye strain. The fact we use our phones in place of pen and paper for virtually everything we do, means it’s something we should talk about. How do phones affect your eyes?
Eye strain from phone use is much the same as computer eye strain symptoms. Mobile phone eye strain may cause the following symptoms:
- Dry eyes
- Painful throbbing headaches around the eye region
- Blurred vision.
However, we often use our phones differently from our computers. With computer usage, we may spend several hours looking at the screen. We use smartphones for shorter periods of time throughout the day, but can total hours of usage by the end of the day.
Although this is less stressful for the eyes, if you’re straining when you look at your cellphone screen, it can mean you are placing stress on your eyes resulting in mobile phone eye strain. This can negatively affect your eye health over the long term.
Let’s take a look at how to protect your eyes from smartphone 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.
Tips to Limit Your Computer and Cellphone Use
Here are some tips to cut back on screen time to benefit your eye health:
- Do not watch films or television on your mobile device;
- Avoid having multiple social media accounts;
- Avoid using devices in social settings;
- Eat without using your phone or computer;
- Set boundaries in your home for when and where devices are permitted;
- Limit the time you spend on certain apps or your phone in general.
Important Advice for Protecting Your Eyes
Adjusting the brightness on your phone is important, your phone may even do it automatically. The ambient light sensor on your device will allow the light to shift depending on how much light is already available. As mentioned earlier, 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 leading eye specialists who can diagnose concerns, offer excellent treatment plans and care, and help make sure your eye health is the best it can be.