What is digital eye strain and how to overcome it

From smartphones to laptops, we are a nation obsessed with screens. While this has opened up access to a world of knowledge, it has also paved the way for numerous health complications, including digital eye strain. Those who spend significant time interacting with digital devices often report dryness, headaches and even pain in their eyes. Understanding why this happens and the preventative measures out there allows you to maintain productivity at work and in your personal life.

What is digital eye strain?

Also known as DES, digital eye strain is a culmination of different eye and vision complications caused by the use of screens. When our eyes are forced to focus on something close-up, the lens contracts to manage excessive light and improve vision. In small doses, this muscle tension goes largely unnoticed but when we stare at screens for longer periods, issues can arise. By preventing the lens from relaxing regularly, our eyes become fatigued and dry. We also see decreased blinking which impacts lubrication and prevents the eyes from functioning at an optimal level.

Managing digital eye strain

As DES is caused by our daily actions, it rarely leads to long-term complications. However, dryness, itching and headaches associated with it can cause unwanted discomfort - especially if working on a screen is part of your job. The best way to reduce eye strain is to reduce exposure to screens however, this isn’t always possible. Instead, take the following steps to find some relief during your daily routine.

1. Ensure your prescription is accurate

Extended screen time will speed up vision deterioration for most people. Therefore, you must have the right prescription and glasses to maintain eye health for as long as possible. Professional optometrists recommend a comprehensive eye examination every two years to identify any complications as early on as possible. They can also tweak prescriptions to suit those who work at computers regularly.

2. Improve your screen environment

Excessive light from your screen, dark surroundings and glare will all cause your eyes to work in excess when focusing on digital screens. Position your screen to the side of windows and avoid using overhead, fluorescent lights. Fit an anti-glare screen to your monitor and be mindful of the light dispersion in the entire room to minimise the risk of strain as much as possible.

3. Opt for specialist lenses

When you visit the glasses store or an independent optician, choose glasses that are tailored to your needs. For example, lenses with anti-reflective coatings or blue light filters work to minimise glare from computer screens, reduce the amount of blue light entering the eye, and reduce strain. While research is yet to conclusively prove their benefits, many find some relief in wearing them - specifically if screen exposure is disrupting sleep. 

Fortunately, digital eye strain is rarely a long-term complication and can be reduced by making small changes to your routine. If you’re searching for independent opticians near me, contact us at The Eye Establishment today. Our professional optometrists specialise in glasses, lenses and frames as well as educating you on the best ways to maintain eye health.