COVID-19 and Digital Eye Strain
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, its seems that everyone (of all ages) has been spending more time on digital devices.
Digital Eye Strain is really a thing! Also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, research is showing a rise in the detection of visual problems because of the number of hours spent in front of a computer. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with prolonged digital device use.
Here are some tips I like to give to my patients to help relax their eyes when staring at a screen all day:
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. This one is my favourite because it is so easy to remember. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away (outside a window?) This will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
- Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes and 20 degrees below eye level.
- Set colour and contrast tones to suit your eyes and match the brightness of your screen with your surroundings. Take advantage of your device’s night shift mode.
- Minimize reflected glare on your screen by using dimmer switches on lights and a protective anti-glare screen cover. Also consider positioning your screen so that it sits perpendicular to windows and other bright light sources. If you are having trouble locating the source of the glare, turn off your monitor to reveal a darkened screen and tilt/swivel your monitor until the reflection disappears.
- Remember to blink! Did you know that on average we 3x less when we are staring at a computer? Less blinking can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial tears and remembering to blink. Dr. Chan’s favourite eye drops are Hylo drops, because they are preservative free and contain hyaluronic acid.
- Ask for a blue light blocking coating on the lenses of your glasses. The sun emits blue light, but so do our phones, desktop monitors, tablets and laptops. Blue light has several harmful effects. It can contribute to computer vision syndrome by reducing contrast and causing eyestrain. It can alter our sleep pattern by suppressing our melatonin secretion, which makes us less tired and makes it harder for us to fall asleep. Lastly, blue light can damage the light sensitive cells at the back of our eye in our macula and increase the risk of developing macular degeneration later in life. Your doctor of optometry will talk to you about eyewear designed specifically for computer use.
Symptoms of headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes and excessive blinking or squinting are all common effects of Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. Any time you experience these symptoms, you should visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye health examination to rule out a more serious vision problem.
Book an appointment with one of our Optometrists at Komoka Optometry for an Eye Health Assessment today!