A 2013 survey conducted by The Vision Council reports that Americans on average spend six to nine hours a day in front of digital devices, and the percentage of adults spending 10 or more hours in front of screens rose 4 percent in the last year. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of these devices. I don’t know about you, but I spend a good portion of my day in front of something digital! I decided to find out a little more about eye strain because I have been experiencing it firsthand.
Eye strain is a symptom, not an eye disease. It occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, like driving a car for a long time, reading, or working on the computer. Basically, any discomfort caused by looking at something for a long time is called eye strain. Even though eye strain is annoying, it usually isn’t serious and will go away once you rest your eyes.
The most common symptoms of eye strain are sore or irritated eyes, difficulty focusing, dry or watery eyes, blurred or double vision, increased sensitivity to light and headache or brow-ache. These symptoms may be accompanied by pain in the neck, shoulders or back due to holding a bad posture for a prolonged period of time.
So, let’s get down to the important stuff. How can you prevent eye strain? There are several things you can do in your work environment to reduce eye strain.
- Follow a 20-20-20 rule. Look away every 20 minutes (preferably to the horizon), at least 20 feet in front of you, for 20 seconds.
- Put a post-it note on your computer that says blink. Blinking helps to rehydrate your eyes.
- Take regular breaks from computer work.
- Place your computer screen 20-26 inches away from your eyes and little below eye level. Also make sure your screen can tilt and swivel.
- Clean off dust and fingerprints from your screen. Smudges reduce contrast and can create reflections and glare.
- Use an adjustable chair.
- Put a document holder next to your computer screen.
- Use artificial tears to refresh eyes when they feel dry.
- Adjust lighting to reduce glare and harsh reflections. Avoid lighting directly behind or above a computer screen.
I’m planning on making adjustments to my workstation according to these suggestions. Have you successfully tried anything that has helped reduce eye strain?