Digital Eye Strain

In the fast changing world today, everything is easily available at our fingertips, at the click of a button on our phones, tabs and laptops. As we immerse ourselves in the virtual world of Netflix, online shopping, games, work, webinars, online school and classes for our children, it is definitely taking a toll on our eyes, posture and sleep cycle. It is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain.

Effect of screens on eyes

  • The muscles in our eyes (the ciliary muscles) are constantly focusing on something near as we see our screens and so get tired and strained at the end of the day.
  • Also, we do not blink as often as we should (16-18 times/minute) while watching a screen or reading and dryness tends to set in.
  • Blue light from devices in the evenings can hamper the secretion of melatonin hormone and disturb our sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.

Symptoms of CVS

Tiredness/fatigue of eyes at the end of the day, burning, watering, foreign body sensation, itching, sensitivity of eyes to light/wind, feeling of dryness, eyestrain, headache, brow ache, neck pain, disturbed sleep cycle, not feeling fresh in the mornings, feeling of keeping eyes closed

Things to remember to avoid CVS

  • 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look more than 20 feet away. This will help relax the muscles in the eyes and avoid them being strained and tired.
  • Every 2 hours get up from your seat for atleast 2 minutes to take a break
  • Posture: Ensure that the back is supported and straight, thighs are parallel to the ground and neck is not bent looking down.
  • Screen: should be at a distance of 20-28 inches from eyes and at or just below eye level. For kids, prop a pillow on the chair so that the computer screen can match level of eyes.
  • Screen brightness should be minimum comfortable
  • Surroundings: Adequate room lighting not too bright to avoid glare or reflections from screen.
  • Anti-glare coating of laptop/desktop/mobile/spectacles can help comfortable viewing.
  • Consciously blink more to replenish tear film.
  • Avoid direct draft of air from air conditioner or fan onto the eyes.
  • Use of blue light filter mode or night mode on phone or flux software on computer can help reduce effects of blue light on our circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid any device for 2 hours before bedtime if possible.
  • Use of artificial tear drops can help relieve minor symptoms of dryness associated with CVS
  • With persistent symptoms, an eye checkup with an ophthalmologist is advisable.