Imagine how strained and tired your arms would feel if you carried around a 10-pound rock for 12 hours. That’s essentially what you’re doing to your eyes when you focus on digital devices all day.
If you’re experiencing headaches, eye fatigue, burning, stinging, redness, watering, blurred vision or even pain in the neck and shoulders after extended time on your devices, you may be experiencing digital eye strain.
A 2018 Unum study found that nearly 40 percent of adults in the United States spend more than 12 hours a day looking at digital devices, like smartphones, tablets, laptops and television screens. In the same study, 34 percent of respondents said they feel they spend too much time on their devices.
In today’s always-on digital culture, it can be hard to escape the need to stay connected, but making a few slight adjustments can have a positive impact on your overall well-being.
Dr. Chris Wroten, an optometrist and partner at Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic, suggests a simple, easy-to-remember rule of thumb for relaxing your eyes.
“Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds,” he said. “This 20-20-20 rule can help relax the eyes and allow them to focus on non-digital objects in the distance.”
Other tips to reduce digital eyestrain include:
• Reduce the brightness or contrast on your screen to a comfortable level. You can find these controls in the settings of your phone or tablet and on the monitor or keyboard of your computer.
• If your glossy screen is prone to glare, consider an anti-glare protector to reduce reflected light.
• Try adjusting the ambient light around you. Strategically placed lamps can produce the proper lighting and result in less visual fatigue than fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
• Maintain good posture and adjust your seating to assure you’re viewing screens at the proper angles and distances. The top of your computer monitor should sit just below eye level at about an arm’s length away from your face.
• Ensure your prescription is up to date, especially if you wear corrective lenses. If it’s been longer than 12 months since your last eye exam, consider making an appointment with your eye doctor.
• Make your vision health a priority. Even if you do not wear corrective lenses, try to get a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, and talk to your doctor about any eye strain symptoms.