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Protecting your eyes from digital screens

Smiling woman with headphones looking at a laptop computerSmiling woman with headphones looking at a laptop computer

Technology plays a significant role in our daily lives. It has revolutionized the way we work, learn and communicate. We live in an era where advancements in technology are common and while it’s undeniable that these advancements have yielded many benefits for society, the impact has not been entirely positive. 

Personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets have in many ways made our lives easier, but overuse of these forms of technology can carry with them some underlying negative effects, including the risk of physical issues. One of the most common of these issues is a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome, sometimes referred to as digital eyestrain –a vision-related problem resulting from prolonged screen time. 

Do we need a screen-life balance?
The average American spends more than 7 hours a day in front of a digital screen. Since the emergence of COVID-19, that number has increased to over 13. While symptoms vary slightly depending on the device, viewing any digital screen for long periods of time can have an effect on your eyes. 

Here are some common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry Eyes
  • Headaches
  • Pain in shoulders and neck

These symptoms are typically caused by:

  • Glare on a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Viewing distance
  • Poor posture

Let’s take a look at some preventative measures we can take to protect our eyes and increase our mental health:

The 20/20/20 Rule
Whether it’s a phone, tablet, TV or computer –our eyes weren’t designed to stare at screens all day. Looking directly at something too long can cause blurred vision, eye fatigue and can even lead to long term health problems, so it’s important to take breaks. The 20/20/20 rule is simple. If you’re in front of a digital screen for 20 minutes, look at something else at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

An easy way to protect your eyes is to maintain a healthy distance between you and your device. Try to keep your device between 16-18 inches away. If you’re reading, consider using the zoom feature rather than bringing the device closer to your face. 

Screen Settings
One of the common causes of eye strain is the brightness of our digital screens. Often overlooked, the settings on our phones and monitors allow us to adjust the brightness and contrast. Try lowering the brightness, or in the case of smart phones, try setting the brightness to automatic, allowing the phone to adjust to the light wherever you are. 

Room lighting
Many of us have heard that a dimly lit room can be bad for our eyes. But actually, less light in a room can be beneficial, especially when working on a computer for long periods of time. Lower voltage bulbs and less florescent lighting can be helpful too. 

Reduce glare
Glare from a digital screen can strain your eyes, preventing them to adjust when trying to focus. Anti-glare screen covers and glasses with anti-reflective coating can help reduce the glare of computer screens.