While technology is great, the devices we rely on for everything might be exposing our eyes to dangers like blurred vision, retinal damage and digital eye strain. Adults and children alike are using computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, video games, Fitbits, GPS devices and other gadgets on a daily basis. However, staring at backlit LED screens, especially at night, has a negative impact on vision and causes digital eye strain. In certain cases, the symptoms of eye strain are a manifestation of an underlying eye condition so it is important that you know them and receive timely treatment.
Digital Eye Strain Symptoms
- Dry or watery eyes
- Itchiness and burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- Frequent headaches
- A painful shoulder
- Aching back
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased sensitivity to light
6 Frightening Outcomes of Using Digital Devices on Eye Health
The potential outcomes of overexposure to digital devices include:
- Digital Eye Strain (DES) – This is a term used to describe problems with vision or eyes that are caused by using computers or digital devices for two hours or more daily. Symptoms include eye strain, headaches, redness, dry eye syndrome, blurry vision and neck/shoulder/back pain. It occurs due to screen glare/position, decreased blinking, and poor posture.
- Texting-Related Issues – Continuous texting can also cause vision issues, including dryness, eye strain, fatigue, headaches and perhaps even myopia or nearsightedness. This happens because of holding a phone too close to the eyes, not blinking enough while staring at a phone screen, and squinting or straining to read text displayed in small fonts.
- Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) – CVS is becoming a common problem for those who stare at digital screens for long periods without blinking, from too close, or at uncomfortable angles. It can cause symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, trouble with focusing, dry eyes, double or blurred vision, light sensitivity, and burning, itchiness or watering in eyes.
- Tension Headaches – Using digital devices for too long can lead to tension headaches, which are caused by extended eye strain. Screen glare and high contrast between dark-colored text and bright screens are usually to blame. Your eyes need to work much harder while focusing on the screen, leading to muscle spasms near the temples.
- Retinal Damage – High Energy Visible Light (HEV) is the blue/violet light emitted by digital devices with LED screens. It lies at the blue end of the color spectrum, and direct exposure may contribute to retinal damage. This can affect your central vision and cause macular degeneration or make age-related macular degeneration (AMD) worse.
- The Risk of Cataracts – There may be a link between blue light from digital devices and an increase in cataract development. While more studies need to be conducted in this regard, there is cause for concern. Doctors report that some patients in their mid-30s are showing cataracts with the same level of cloudiness normally seen only in patients over the age of 70.
- Ocular Migraines – Sitting in front of the TV screen for several hours, playing games on a hand-held device, reading e-books under fluorescent lights or working on a computer for extended hours can trigger ocular migraines. Also known as retinal migraines, ocular migraines usually accompany flashing dots, nausea, sensitivity to flashing lights, temporary blindness, wavy lines, and may or may not accompany a throbbing headache.
- Dry Eyes – Working on the computer screen for longer hours often results in irritated and dry eyes. Other symptoms of dry eyes include increased sensitivity to light and blurred vision. If left untreated, dry eyes can adversely impact your eyesight so it is very important to protect eyes from the computer screen with anti-glare eyewear.
Who Is At Greatest Risk of Vision Issues?
Children using digital devices on a frequent and regular basis face a higher risk of vision-related issues, since their eyes are still developing. They do not have the natural defense against blue light found in adult eyes as a result of the lens yellowing with age, which keeps blue light from efficiently penetrating and reaching the retina.
Millennials who have grown up using digital devices, students, and people working on computers all day are also at a higher risk of eye strain, especially if they do not follow proper eye care practices.
Top 10 Ways to Prevent Digital Eye Strain
Here are 10 preventative measures that can help protect your eyes from damage
- Avoiding glare helps prevent eye strain, so use an anti-glare screen or coating on devices that you use often.
- Follow the “20-20-20” rule – look away from the screen every 20 minutes, at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. You can also massage your eyes periodically for lasting eye strain relief.
- Keep your phone as far from your eyes as possible, but at a distance where you can still comfortably read without straining.
- Adjust the brightness on your digital display so it matches the brightness of the area around it.
- Position yourself at an arm’s length from the computer screen, with the screen just below your eye level.
- Take frequent breaks to rest your eyes. Stretch, go outside or take a nap – whatever works for you!
- Get an eye exam regularly to help nip any eyesight or eye health issues in the bud, before they get worse.
- Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently, since this keeps your eyes clean and lubricated.
- Place a light source behind you instead of behind the device, so your eyes don’t have to work so hard to adjust.
- Wear glasses with an anti-reflective coating while using any digital device for prolonged periods of time.
Are you experiencing any of the digital eye strain symptoms stated above?
Schedule a consultation at InSight Vision Center to combat the negative effects of digital eye strain while preventing it from progressing and inviting other problems.