Carolina Vision Associates, O.D., P.A. Tips on how to manage digital eye strain in Wilmington, North Carolina.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably inseparable from your electronic devices – phone, laptop, tablet, etc…, but wish you could part with the headaches and eye strain it’s causing.
On the average, American spend between 2 and 11 hours each day absorbing and processing digital media. This extended screen time can lead to a range of uncomfortable, or even painful visual symptoms. Most commonly, people complain to eye care professionals about dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, eye twitching, red eyes, neck and shoulder pain. According to statistics reported by The Vision Council, 59% of people who use digital tech regularly experience these symptoms.
What’s really causing digital eye strain? Several reasons are to blame. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, a main problem is the posture we use when starting at a digital screen. When using a mobile device, you probably view downwards, straining your neck. In fact, a 30-degree tilt of the head is said to create a 40 lb. strain on your neck!
At our eye clinic, we also treat many patients who have dry eyes from viewing screens all the time. That’s because people tend to blink less frequently when gazing at a digital device. Blinking is a vital reflex that keeps your eye surface lubricated with fresh, healthy tears. Every time you close and open your eyes, it clears environmental allergens and impurities from your eyes. When using a computer, studies show that you blink a third less times per minute. Consequently, your tear film is decreased – leading to burning, gritty feeling in your eyes, and blurred vision. Over time, reduced blinking may also damage the tear-producing glands in your eyes.
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Wilmington eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.
Blue light is a hot topic nowadays, and many of our eye care patients want to know the bottom line about this high-energy short wavelength.
First of all, the sun emits about 100 times more blue light than your phone. However, the sun is millions of miles away from your eyes, while your phone is only inches only. The blue light from your phone can therefore have a powerful effect. One critical way in which blue light affects your health is by disturbing your sleep cycle. When your eyes react to blue light (interpreted as sunny daylight), they send signals to your brain that it’s time to be awake. So using your smartphone in bed can seriously disrupt your body’s daily/nightly rhythm. Overexposure to blue light has also been associated with speeding up the aging process of your eye.
- Before you do anything else, call an eye clinic near you to schedule an eye exam! Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to pinpoint any risk factors for digital eye strain, such as dry eye or an incorrect vision prescription for your glasses or contact lenses.
- Adjust your work area. Make sure you are physically comfortable, sitting with good posture – not tilting your head or hunching over to look down at a laptop or tablet for long periods of time. The opposite can also be a problem – make sure your screen isn’t too high. The top of your screen should be at eye level with your head, allowing your eyes to look downward slightly towards the middle of the screen.
- Check your lighting. Brighter light can help prevent or reduce eye strain. Light fixtures should also be angled in a way that doesn’t cast glare on your screen or shine into your eyes. Ambient lighting that matches the brightness of your screen causes the least amount of stress on your eyes.
- Take a break every 20 minutes to look about 20 feet into the distance for 20 seconds – and blink as you do this! You’ll reset your eyes’ focus and disperse tears across the surface of your eyes. Getting up and taking a short walk can also be beneficial for preventing headaches.
- Declare the two hours before bedtime as a no-screen zone. Listen to music, read a book, take a bath, or engage in any bedtime routine that doesn’t depend on a screen.
Visit an eye care center for an eye exam and a consultation about more ways we can help to relieve your painful vision, such as computer glasses, blue-light blocking filters, and no-glare coatings on lenses.
Carolina Vision Associates, O.D., P.A., your Wilmington eye doctor for eye exams and eye care
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