In this digital age, most of us spend the majority of our days using digital devices like televisions, desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and gaming systems. More often than not, we are on computers all day at work before coming home where we turn the TV on while perusing the Internet on our tablet. Not to mention all the texts in between on your phone.

To keep this short and to the point – you’re harming your eyes by doing this.

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use.

What Are the Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain?

  • Red, dry or irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty focusing

What Causes Digital Eye Strain?

Digital Eye Strain is caused by prolonged use of digital devices. Digital devices often feature small print and pixilated images that can be difficult to read and cause our eyes to strain in order to focus.

Preventing Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain can be prevented by limiting digital media use, but for the vast majority of us who cannot (or will not) reduce usage, there are multiple ways to lessen the impact on your eyes from prolonged use.

Pay attention to your body. Sudden neck, head or shoulder pains are a warning sign of strain. Before your eyes feel fatigued or irritated, and before the warning signs of digital eye strain appear, try the following remedies to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Keep your distance. Don’t hold your phone or tablet too close to your eyes, and position your computer screen according to OSHA's guidelines.

Pointers for distance:

  • For computers, extend your arm while seated in front of the computer monitor. The correct distance to be seated from the screen occurs when you can comfortably place your palm flat on the monitor, as though you were high-fiving the screen.
  • For hand-held devices, hold the device just below eye level and at a distance that still enables you to comfortably read the screen.

Reduce glare. Adjust the brightness of your screen by checking the device’s control setting. Consider changing your background color from bright white to a cooler gray. Glare reduction filters are also available and easily attach to computer screens.

Clean your screen. A dust-free, smudge-free screen helps reduce glare.

Dim surrounding lights. Reduce the amount of light competing with your device’s screen. Dim inside lights, and when outdoors, try to avoid competing with direct sunlight while using your digital device. Doing so will help reduce glare and eye strain.

Increase text size. Try increasing text size to help better define screen content and to make reading more comfortable for your eyes.

Blink more often. Staring at a digital screen can reduce how often you blink, causing eyes to become dry. Remind yourself to blink more often, which also helps the eyes refocus.

Take a 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Even short breaks make a huge difference.