How Screens Can Affect Your Eyes

You may experience it as a headache at the end of the day. Or perhaps your eyes are sore or burning, and your vision is blurred. Theses are all signs of digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

Digital eye strain is more than just a work issue. Even though we can spend most of our working day in front of a screen, we often do the same when we get home. There are increasing numbers of people presenting with eye strain due to overuse of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Why do devices strain our eyes?

  • When reading on a device, we tend to blink less than usual. As blinking is key to moistening the eyes, this can lead to dry, gritty, red eyes.
  • We view digital screens at less than ideal distances or angles – often way too close
  • Devices often have glare or reflection, or poor contrast between the text and the background
  • Other factors that can make symptoms worse include poor posture, incorrect setup of your computer or workstation, incorrect prescription in your glasses, and circulating air from an air conditioner or nearby fan which can further dry your eyes.

What can you do about it?

  • Take breaks. Rest your eyes by looking away from the digital screen.
  • Blink often. Remind yourself to blink regularly when looking at a screen, as this will moisten your eyes.
  • Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well-lubricated and prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
  • Check the lighting. Reduce the amount of overhead and surrounding light that is competing with your device’s screen.
  • Get your eyes checked. Make sure you have appropriate vision correction, and consider investing in glasses or contacts designed specifically for computer work. Ask your optometrist about lens coatings and tints that might help too.
  • Adjust your monitor and screen settings. Position your computer screen so it’s one arm’s length in front of your face and enlarge the type for easier reading. Adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you.
  • Use a document holder. If you need to refer to print material working at your computer, use a document holder, placed either between the keyboard and monitor or to one side. The goal is to reduce how much your eyes need to readjust and how often you turn your neck and head.