What do TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems all have in common? Each of them can cause eye strain after prolonged use. Sometimes referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, eye strain from digital screens is more prevalent now than ever. 

If you’ve ever experienced a tired sensation in your eyes, headaches, blurred vision, dry eye, or shoulder/neck pain after using a digital device, you’ve most certainly experienced digital eye strain. As students embark on distance learning once again, ophthalmologists predict that eye strain will increase

What Causes Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain is triggered by one or more of the following:

  • Poor lighting
  • Screen glare 
  • Improper viewing distance
  • Poor posture
  • Uncorrected vision problems (e.g. farsightedness)

5 Ways To Reduce Digital Eye Strain

1. Use Proper Lighting

The room where distance learning takes place should be as evenly lit as possible. In other words, there should be no spots that are more brightly lit than others. Natural light is ideal, but if you have to use artificial lighting, opt for incandescent light bulbs or full-spectrum fluorescent light bulbs. 

2. Minimize Screen Glare 

Make sure that the computer monitor is positioned so that it does not reflect light from surrounding lights or windows. The best way to reduce glare is to place light sources behind the back, not behind the computer screens. 

3. Zoom In To Avoid Squinting 

The screen should always sit 18 to 24 inches from the body at eye level. If the text or images on the screen are too small to see without leaning closer or squinting, simply zoom in while maintaining an arms-length distance from the screen. 

4. Follow The 20-20-20 Rule

Our eyes need to rest more often than you may think. Every 20 minutes, to be exact. The 20-20-20 rule involves focusing on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds in 20-minute intervals. You can encourage children to do this by telling them to look out the window once they finish a chapter or simply close their eyes for 20 seconds.

5. Regular Eye Check-Ups 

Uncorrected vision problems can worsen digital eye strain. Children should have an annual comprehensive eye exam, and distance learners may need to increase the frequency of their visits. If needed, consult with an optometrist at Everett & Huriteabout getting glasses like blue light glasses or contact lenses specifically designed for computer use.

Take Care of Your Eyes While Learning Virtually

In today’s world, it is almost impossible to avoid digital screens. But by following these tips, students can reduce eye strain during online classes and maintain good eye health. Remember to take frequent breaks, adjust lighting and viewing distance, and visit an eye doctor regularly for optimal visual comfort in the virtual classroom. 

Everett & Hurite is committed to providing high quality eye care to patients of all ages, including children. We staff a number of board-certified pediatric ophthalmologists with years of experience diagnosing and treating pediatric eye conditions. 

Request an appointment with one of the physicians or call 412-288-0858. We remain committed to providing excellent, ongoing care for our patients while taking every possible precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can digital eye strain be permanent?

No, digital eye strain is typically temporary and can easily be relieved with proper rest and care for the eyes.

Is digital eye strain the same as nearsightedness?

No, nearsightedness (myopia) is a refractive error that causes blurred vision at a distance, while digital eye strain is caused by prolonged use of digital screens.

What are some OTC  remedies that can relieve eye strain?

There are a few OTC options that can help relieve eye strain, such as lubricating eye drops and warm compresses. It is important to note that these solutions may provide temporary relief but do not address the underlying cause of digital eye strain. Consult with an optometrist for personalized recommendations.

What off-screen activities can I do to reduce eye strain while learning virtually? 

It is important to take breaks from digital screens and engage in off-screen activities, such as reading a book, going for a walk, or doing stretches to relax the eye muscles. These activities can help prevent eye fatigue and reduce strain on the eyes.