Computer vision syndrome (Digital eye strain)


Did you know that over 60% of Americans experience computer vision syndrome? Yet, not as many people know that they are. Did you also know that the average American spends at least seven hours in front of the phone or computer screen – daily?

This might seem like not long enough. But these seven hours a week translate to 176,400 seconds spent in front of the digital screen.

Don’t forget; also, this is just the minimum. Gamers, video streamers, content creators, programmers, and anyone who needs to be in front of a digital device spend more extended periods.

But did you know that prolonged computer use doesn’t just happen?

Several things are happening to your eye during those moments – and you’d be shocked to see how much that bright light affects your eye.

Ready to learn about digital eye strain? Let’s get into it!

What is digital eye strain?

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explains Digital Eye Strain (DES) as a term that refers to visual and ocular discomfort caused by continuous usage of digital devices. There are different digital eye strain symptoms, including blurred vision, sensitivity to light, eye fatigue, double vision, problems with eye focusing, watery eyes, and so many more eye discomfort issues. However, before we go deeply into the symptoms of digital device-caused eye strain, let’s look at the causes of eye strain.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is another word for digital eye strain. While the two words are interchangeable, CVS is the term your healthcare provider would probably use to refer to the problem when you go in for your eye exam.

Causes of digital eye strain

The number one cause of digital eyestrain is digital devices. The more you stare at the blue light of the phone or computer screen, the more you are prone to developing digitally-caused eye strain. But that’s not the only issue. It might not be your phone that’s causing the eye discomfort. Let’s look at some other variations of the cause factors:

  1. Poor posture by computer users
  2. Staring at the screen glare for long periods.
  3. Poor lighting in the room or from the computer
  4. Viewing digital screens from straining angles or distance
  5. Refractive errors with the screen or your eye muscle imbalance.
  6. Uncorrected vision problems
  7. Reduced blinking when using a cell phone or a computer.
  8. It could also be a combination of these causes

What are the risk factors for eye strain?

Risk factors refer to the things that increase your chances of developing straining eye symptoms. In other words, you are more at risk of developing eyestrain symptoms. Again, it is unsurprising that those who spend long periods in front of the computer screen are more likely to develop computer vision problems. However, those are not the only risk factors. Here are a couple more:

  1. The proximity to your digital device is too close, including the TV.
  2. You stare into the blue light from your computer at the wrong angle, which causes neck and shoulder pain. This is also related to poor posturing.
  3. You have vision-related problems but are not using any glasses or contact lens prescription.
  4. You already have a case of dry eye, blurred vision, and eye fatigue.
  5. Maybe, you are using contact lenses, but not the ones suitable for computer use.
  6. You don’t do eye exercises, nor give your eye a break during computer work.

What are the symptoms of eyestrain?

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The American Optometric Association gave a detailed answer to the question, ‘What are the symptoms of digital eye strain?‘ While they mentioned that the symptoms include blurred vision, dry eyes, problems with eye focusing, and many things we have mentioned before, they did something peculiar. They divided the symptoms of eye strain into two: external and internal.

External symptoms of eye strain include dryness of the eye, excessive pouring from the eye’s tear film, itching, and general irritation or discomfort.

The internal symptoms, according to the national eye institute, includes ache behind the eyes and other stress with visual abilities.

If you need a straight answer to the question: What are the symptoms of eye strain? Here it is:

  1. Dry eye
  2. Difficulty with eye focus
  3. Tired eyes
  4. Excessive tearing
  5. Itchy eyes
  6. Burning eyes
  7. Blurred vision problems
  8. Headaches
  9. Sensitivity to bright lights from phones, computers, other digital devices, and even light bulbs.
  10. Neck and shoulder pain.

How is digital eye strain diagnosed?

Though you can self-diagnose based on the above symptoms, it is always best to visit an eye doctor or healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. While considering your health history, you will undergo a complete eye exam to assess any additional problems.

Can eye strain be prevented?

You can certainly prevent eye strain by adjusting a few things while working on your digital device. The following are the things to note if you want to prevent eye strain.

  1. Avoid looking at computer screens for extended periods. Use the 20-20-20 rule, which means, for every 20 minutes you spend in front of a digital or computer screen, look at something 20 feet from you for 20 seconds.
  2. Use corrective lenses if you are prescribed to use one. If you use glasses, ask for a glare filter. You can also purchase a screen glare filter for your digital device. Blue light glasses are also recommended.
  3. Avoid using your devices with poor contrast levels. Glare and reflections can reduce contrast; therefore, when you reduce glare by using a filter, you are boosting the screen’s contrast.
  4. Always place your computers at a comfortable eye level to avoid straining your neck and shoulders. You can use an adjustable chair if you are yet to figure out where your eye level is.
  5. If you have a dry eye, apply the prescribed quantity of eye drops to your eye. Artificial tears can also stand in place of eye drops. Remember to always order artificial tears from a healthcare provider and never from a random store.

In some cases, the environmental factors of your work environment might be causing dry or itchy eyes. Ensure you stay away from dusty areas or places with other factors that can cause eye irritation.

How is eyestrain relieved?

You can relieve the symptoms of eye strain by changing your work environment so that you can reduce glare. You can also make a habit of resting your eyes after using the digital screen for a period. Also, wearing the proper glasses that reduce blue light emission can help relieve the symptoms.

Does eye exercise relieve eye strain?

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Eye workouts may be able to relieve the strain placed on the eye while working on mobile devices. A few eye workouts you can try to include the 20-20-20 rules that were mentioned earlier. You can also try blinking repeatedly every few minutes.

Other things to try to include covering your eyes with your palm, tracing out the figure ‘8’ with your eyes, random rolling of the eyeballs, and so on. These visual demands help to rest your eyes and relieve strain.

How is eye strain treated or managed?

The best way to treat or manage eye strain is to wear glasses or contact lenses for your work activities. Don’t forget to g for your regular eye checkups while taking part in healthy eye workouts that reduce eye fatigue.

If you have dry eyes, make it a habit to moisturize, as dry eyes can worsen the symptoms of eye strain.

Before we round up, let’s briefly talk about blue light, what it is, and how it can influence eye strain.

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What is blue light?

Blue light is the part of the light spectrum that we can see with our eyes, and most blue light comes from the sun, computer screens, and many digital devices. But blue light is also bad for the eyes because it is one of the leading causes of digital eye strain and eye damage.

Do blue light glasses work to suppress eyestrain?

Short answer, yes! Blue light glasses help to reduce how much of the waves and energy enters your eye, hence reducing strain.

Are there Contact Lenses that block blue light?

Yes, there are corrective lenses that can reduce how much blue light enters your eye. Just remember to visit the doctor for this request.

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