We know that we live on a planet that is rotating and shifting through space, but that is not what we mean when we say the world is shifting. In the last 12 months, just about every aspect of our daily lives has shifted dramatically. We’ve gone from traveling through morning and evening traffic to chatting with co-workers during video conference calls. We’ve gone from dropping the kids off at school to making sure they are checked in to their virtual classrooms on time. These shifts have been significant. They have been difficult. However, we may be getting used to them. This isn’t a bad thing. The world has gone through massive changes before and will again. What we need to do is shift with it, and shift in the healthiest manner possible. Here, we discuss how the increase in online activity may affect eye health and what we can do about it.
Computer Use: The Good and the Bad
There is no doubt that technology has been paramount as we’ve navigated the pandemic of 2020. On the flip side of staying connected with friends, family, and colleagues, though, is the detriment that prolonged computer usage poses. According to one study, as much as 90% of those who use computers or other digital devices regularly suffer signs of computer vision syndrome. This condition is also referred to as digital eye strain. Symptoms include:
- Dryness and itching
- Eye pain and aching
- Excessive eye watering
- Eye twitching
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty focusing
- Neck and shoulder pain
Guarding your Eyes against Digital Eye Strain
The good news is that computer vision syndrome is relatively benign. It is not associated with vision loss or eye disease. However, symptoms can be significant enough to interrupt daily life. To avoid this, we recommend the following:
- Take breaks! Your eyes need a rest, which can be difficult when you spend your day in front of a screen. To avoid digital eye strain, set an alarm to go off every 20 minutes. Close your eyes for 20 seconds. Then, look 20 feet away before you return to your work. Additionally, when you can, close your eyes for a few seconds several times a day.
- Set blue light protection on your screen. This can be done by wearing blue-light glasses or by placing a protective sheet over the screens you use the most.
- Adjust screen brightness. The brightness of digital devices, including computers and phones, may need to change throughout the day. When in bright-light settings, your screen needs to be brighter. In low-light settings, your screen should be dimmed.