Protect Your Eyesight: Tips for Preventing Eye Strain at the Computer
Our lives have become increasingly more comfortable, efficient, and overall easier as technology has innovated. But rapid innovation in technology that doesn't match pace with our own physiological evolution comes with its own dangers. We live in a world where devices are everywhere and we’re spending more and more time attached to a screen. One of the drawbacks to this new way of life is the damage to our eyes. Since the adaptation to computers has boomed, eye strain has become a common issue.
What is eye strain?
Eye strain refers to any eye discomfort that you experience when you stare at a digital screen for too long, whether that’s just a couple of hours or a twelve-hour workday. Eye strain is the feeling of dryness, tiredness, or general discomfort in your eyes that happens when you concentrate on a digital screen for too long. It may happen from reading, designing, editing, gaming, or just browsing the web. Eye strain can come from computer, mobile, or tablet usage. Previously, eye strain was thought to be reserved for those who had to keep their eyes open for long periods concentrating on a single focus, like someone driving long distances. Nowadays, this condition is common for programmers, gamers, remote workers, students, and more.
What causes eye strain?
In essence, eye strain happens when your eye muscles become fatigued and lose their optimal focusing capabilities. As the muscles become tired, the symptoms of eye strain set in, and you start to get double or blurry vision, tired, dry eyes, headaches, and neck tension. Eye strain also goes by digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome. While increased use of screens has been the primary cause of this condition, many factors that worsen physical symptoms. If you're not using the right eyewear, you're being exposed to too much blue light, your eyes are dry, or you have poor sitting posture, you could be making the eye strain symptoms much worse.
Those who suffer from existing vision issues are recommended to wear special glasses to make viewing screens more comfortable. All of our devices deliver us a small amount of blue light. Some studies point towards blue light exposure contributing to vision problems. But it's not just the light or the computer that impacts eye strain. How your device is situated or how you’re sitting also matters. If your eyes are dry, it can irritate and lead to eye strain after prolonged viewing. Also, holding a device too closely and trying to view it for prolonged periods can tire out the muscles of your eyes more quickly. Posture also affects eye strain because how you sit may change how your eyes struggle to view the screen. This is why it's important to have your devices set up properly to create the least damaging environment for your eye health.
With so many possible causes of eye strain that we may be guilty of, it's important to remember that some of the symptoms can be quite serious. Eye strain can lead to migraines, tension headaches, neck and back pain, and a disrupted sleep cycle. All of these can further exacerbate health conditions in some people. Whether or not eye strain is the cause of more fatal health conditions is yet to be seen in studies. Having underlying issues with your vision, added stress, or reading with improper lighting can also cause eye strain.
If you find yourself feeling suffering from the following symptoms, you may be suffering from eye strain:
- Blurry vision
- Eye fatigue
- Difficulty focusing, especially when switching between near and far objects
- Tired eyes
- Seeing double
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Neck and shoulder tension
What can you do about eye strain?
We all may experience eye strain in our lifetimes but what can be done about it? First, we can reduce. Reducing the time we spend staring at digital screens will naturally reduce eye strain. But if simply reducing doesn’t seem like an applicable method, many experts have recommended the “20/20/20 Rule” with digital devices. After you've stared at your device for 20 minutes, you are supposed to look away for 20 seconds at something located 20 feet in front of you. This will have a positive effect on the muscles used to focus so that you're not taxing them in the same position for too long. If a strict “20/20/20 Rule” seems like too much, try to take frequent breaks. However long those may be and how often are up to you.
Your environment has a big impact on your eye health. Make sure that you lubricate your eyes when focused on a screen. When you are focused on something, you are naturally going to be blinking less and this is going to dry out your eyes. You can lubricate your eyes with eye drops, but also make sure you keep humidity levels at the optimum level so as not to dry out your eyes. The light of your environment is also important. Eye strain can happen faster in poor lighting. You also want to make sure that your screen is placed in front of you and slightly below your field of vision. A slight downward gaze is best for keeping the eyes relaxed and healthy. Positioning yourself as far back as you can be from your monitor while still being able to read without straining much will help prevent eye problems. It's never good to be too close to your monitor. Optimizing your brightness and contrast for optimal visibility is also a helpful measure to take.
Tools to help reduce eye strain
After you optimize your positioning, your environment, and your habits, you might want to consider some hardware upgrades that may reduce eye strain. If blue light is, in fact, a cause of eye strain, then it seems appropriate that glasses designed to block out blue light would be helpful in reducing eye strain. For more information, you can read this blog here. While it's possible to optimize your current monitor by optimizing settings like contrast and brightness, some manufacturers have released monitors with this technology built in. Acer's BlueLightShield Pro monitors are designed with eye strain in mind. Acer VisionCare gives you the vibrant colors and viewing experiences you’re used to without any of the headaches or eye strain you get from other displays. Acer’s BlueLightShield Pro Eyesafe® Certified Displays emit at least 30% less high-energy blue light compared to the industry-standard LCDs. This can reduce harmful blue light while still maintaining a high degree of color accuracy. If you’re a gamer who spends a lot of time staring at a screen, there is the Predator XB3 VisionCare monitor, one of Acer’s displays, that is infused with the latest eye care technology.
About Alex Clark: Alex is a contributing writer for Acer. Alex is a Texas-based writer and B2B email marketing strategist specializing in helping technology brands connect to their customers. He has lived all over Asia and has consulted with business clients in numerous industries to grow their brands.