In Depth: How to Avoid Eye Strain from Digital Devices

RALEIGH -- While you're hard at work, don't forget your eyes are also hard working too. In fact, in today's digital age, new reports show the average eye is working overtime as the average American spends more than 10 hours in front of a cellphone, television, computer, tablet screen each day.  

Factors like the blue light emitted from the screen along with lower contrast in printed text, can make it challenging for the eyes to stay focused and can ultimately cause them to fatigue far faster. And as screen time increases, so do the related side effects that come along like headaches, dry eye and tiredness.  

So in honor of Workplace Eye Wellness Month, Dr. Amanda Steele of MyEyeDr. in Raleigh sat down with our Caroline Blair and explained ways we can all work to avoid complications associated with digital eye strain.  She says to do the following:  

  • Wear your latest prescription. If you have prescribed vision correction, it is important to wear your prescription and follow recommendations provided by your optometrist. Visit your optometrist every year to ensure your prescription is up to date. If you’re one of the many Americans who use digital devices every day, consider lenses designed to reduce the impact of looking at screens for long periods of time by moderating the effects of glare and increasing contrast. Consider a pair of computer glasses to leave at work, guaranteeing you always have a pair on hand.
  • Arrange your desk with your eyes in mind. Optimize your work environment to reduce harmful effects to your vision. Increase the text size on your digital device and adjust contrast to make content more readable. Position your computer display so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level to decrease tension in the neck and back, and make sure it is at least an arm’s length away. If you find yourself tipping your head back to read the screen, computer glasses might be for you.
  • Make the 20-20-20 rule a habit. Dry, tired eyes? You aren’t alone. According to The Vision Council, roughly 65 percent of Americans suffer from digital eye strain. Sustained digital device usage can wear eyes out and impact performance. As a rule of thumb, use the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. This refocuses eyes and allows blinking to return to a normal rate.
  • Schedule an annual eye exam. Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. Studies show that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells, which in turn can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Consult your local optometrist and schedule an annual eye exam to detect any vision issues early and ensure digital device usage does not impact your work performance.

They say while digital eye health is a top concern for those using digital devices daily, other job activities pose additional eye-related risks.  

Employees may be exposed to elements that could physically harm the eyes, either with particles of dust, bits of metal and glass, chemicals, or flying objects. They urge employees engaged in those types of situations, to wear the required eye protection, like glasses with side protection, goggles, or special lenses. 

And remember that vision corrective lenses can be made into safety goggles as well.