Health Topics

Don’t let digital eye strain be a pain


December 27, 2016

The following tips will help ease eye fatigue from the online life.


Whether for work or play, we spend an enormous amount of time on our digital devices. The Vision Council reports that nine out of 10 adults spend more than two hours a day using a digital device and that one in 10 people spends a whopping three-fourths of their waking hours doing so. All that screen time can cause digital eye strain, which in turn, can lead to a host of other symptoms.

“Most people think of eye strain as simply discomfort that happens when looking at things up close such as reading books or using the computer,” says Dora Sztipanovits Mathe, M.S., O.D., F.A.A.O., Assistant Professor in Clinical Ophthalmology and Visual Science with the Vanderbilt Eye Institute. “Less obviously, but not less commonly, you can have symptoms such as headaches, dry eye, double vision and blurred vision — both near or when looking into the distance after prolonged computer use.”

These five tips will help you combat digital eye strain:

1. Use the 20-20-20 rule.

“Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away,” Mathe says.


2. Try artificial tears.

“Blink rate has been shown to be reduced by about 50 percent during prolonged computer use,” Mathe explains, “and this, in turn, leads to dry eyes and eye fatigue.” She recommends keeping a bottle by your keyboard.


3. Check your glasses.

An outdated prescription will contribute to your discomfort. She says, “If you are 40 or older, make sure that your glasses have the appropriate amount of magnification in them for your working distance. This will help with eye strain that may be caused from presbyopia.” Presbyopia is the inability to focus on items up close.


4. Change your screen’s color and brightness.

Digital screens emit a blue light that can disrupt sleep patterns and cause eye strain. “You can alter the color and brightness of your devices to give you relief,” Mathe says, noting many programs and apps are available for it.


5. Take frequent breaks.

Get up from your computer or put the phone or tablet down and do something else for a while. Your eyes will thank you!

Are your eyes in need of care? The Vanderbilt Eye Institute assesses and treats a variety of conditions. Call 615-936-2020 for an appointment.