Tired eyes from staring at a screen? Advice to help digital eye strain

Spending more time in front of a computer or other electronic device during the pandemic is...
Spending more time in front of a computer or other electronic device during the pandemic is causing digital eye strain in many adults and children.(WBAY)
Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 4:40 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As the pandemic continues, more of us are just getting used to staring at computers or phones all day.

While technology is making it possible for us to either work or learn from home, it’s doing a number on our eyes.

“We’ve been seeing an increase in digital eye strain over the past few years with kids, adults,” says Prevea Health Optometrist Dr. Jessica Hilbert.

Screen time is simply unavoidable these days.

Staring at those screens may cause us to blink less, which can dry out eyes.

We might also be holding screens too close, or words on screens may be harder to read than print because of poor contrast between text and background.

Some or all of those things might have us experiencing blurriness, headaches, fatigue or an inability to concentrate.

Dr. Hilbert says digital eye strain shouldn’t have long-lasting effects on our eyes, but there are a few changes we can make to avoid those short-term annoyances.

“One big thing we talk about all the time is follow the 20-20-20 rule. It just means that every 20 minutes that you’re on a device, take 20 seconds, just blink your eyes, look 20 feet away,” she recommends.

You can also reduce the glare or brightness on your device.

“Otherwise you can buy a matte screen filter. That really helps a lot, “advises Hilbert. “And then remembering to keep your devices at an arm’s length away.”

When you’re done with school or work, walk away from all devices.

“There are myopia studies, which is where you would need glasses for distance, that are showing the more time you spend outside, the less likely your nearsightedness will progress,” explains Dr. Hilbert.

She says that’s still being researched but it involves UV light not using your focusing system as much.

There’s also not much research yet on ‘blue blocking’ lenses that are supposed to filter out blue light from devices.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says they’re not needed, and it’s how you use devices that needs to change.

Dr. Hilbert adds, “There really isn’t any research that shows that it’s going to prevent eye diseases, but I have had people say that it really does help with their eye fatigue. There isn’t any real solid research that says one way or the other. It can’t hurt to wear them though.”

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