Vision Care Services Are Key to Treating and Preventing Digital Eye Strain

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – staring at a screen all day can impact your vision. People are spending more time than ever behind laptops and monitors, whether they’re at home or in an office. As a result, eye health risks are on the rise.

According to a 2022 workplace wellness survey, 78% of employees say their work productivity and performance has been affected by eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches, blurry vision, discomfort looking at bright screens, and/or difficulty focusing on distant objects upon looking up from the screen. On top of that, a 2020 version of the survey reported that only 67% of respondents take breaks throughout the workday in an effort to relieve screen-related discomfort.

Looking at a digital screen puts significantly more stress on the eyes compared to a printed page. Text on a computer or other device isn’t as sharply defined, the contrast between the letters and background is reduced, and glares and reflections on the screen can make viewing a challenge.

Because of screens’ higher visual demands, it’s all too common for users to develop symptoms of computer vision syndrome. In fact, the American Optometric Association says that people who spend two or more continuous hours using a computer or other digital screen every day are at a greater risk.

It’s time to take back control of our eye health and start thinking about how screens are taking a toll on vision. Keep reading to learn more about computer vision syndrome and the steps you can take to prevent it.

What Is Computer Vision Syndrome – and How Does It Affect Eye Health?

Computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, is a condition that results from focusing the eyes on a computer or other screen for prolonged periods of time. Due to factors like poor lighting, screen glare, improper viewing distances, bad posture, and uncorrected vision problems, individuals may experience symptoms including:

  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

A person’s visual abilities and the length of time they spend looking at a screen play a large part in the severity of these symptoms. It’s important to note that many of the symptoms are temporary and diminish after stopping computer work or the use of a display device, like a smartphone.

However, some sufferers of computer vision syndrome can experience eye health issues even after they’ve taken time away from their screens. With this in mind, seeking out vision care services from an eye health professional is paramount. An optometrist can discover the root of the problem and address it to prevent symptoms from recurring or worsening in the future.

Tips to Ease Computer Vision Syndrome and Improve Eye Health

There are several approaches to reducing screen-related eye stress. But seeking regular eye care and making adjustments to how the screen is viewed are typically the most effective solutions. Here are a few recommendations from vision health experts for treating and alleviating computer vision syndrome:

  • Invest in the proper eyewear: Glasses or contacts prescribed for more general use don’t always meet the demands of computer work. A different prescription may be more suitable for viewing a screen, which is generally about 20 to 30 inches away from the eyes. In fact, even individuals who don’t normally need eyewear for daily activities can benefit from a computer-specific prescription. Special add-ons, like lens tints and coatings, can also help you see better and feel more comfortable.

    Always talk to your eye health provider before purchasing eyewear. As a good rule of thumb, computer users should get a comprehensive eye exam once a year.

  • Adapt your workstation: Most of us prefer to view a computer with our eyes looking slightly downward. Adjust your screen so it’s 16 to 30 inches away, with the top just below your eye level and tilted at a 10- to 20-degree angle.

    If you use a lot of reference materials, you may consider getting a copyholder that you can place beside your computer’s monitor. By putting documents at the same distance as your screen, your eyes won’t be forced to change focus when you look from one point to the other.

  • Give your eyes a break: Just like any other part of your body, your eyes need opportunities to rest. To avoid eye fatigue, incorporate the 20-20-20 rule into your routine. For every 20 minutes of screen time, you should look away at something at least 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds.

    It’s also in the best interest of your eye health to work on other tasks throughout the day that get you up from your screen, like meeting with coworkers or making phone calls.

How Do I Know If Computer Vision Syndrome Is Affecting My Eye Health?

To diagnose computer vision syndrome, you should see an eye health provider. Through a comprehensive eye exam, an optometrist will be able to determine if your vision is being affected and advise on the best treatment options for your needs.

This makes it essential to have good eye care benefits in place. Too often, people overlook their vision health, because they associate visiting the doctor’s office with high out-of-pocket expenses. Fortunately, quality eye care benefits are changing all that. The right plan makes it simple, flexible, and affordable to look after your eyes.

Reach out to a reputable, patient-focused eye care benefits company to learn more about purchasing your own plan.