Digital Eye Strain & Maintaining Eye Health in the Digital Era

There is no denying that digital devices are an integral part of our lives that we just cannot do without. From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, our eyes remain glued to various devices, including mobile phones, computers, and televisions. Whether it’s for working, studying, or social media scrolling, the average American spends 7.5 hours every day in front of a screen. Needless to say, this has taken a massive toll on eye health.

Spending extended periods of time looking at a screen for too long causes vision problems and eye pain, also known as digital eye strain. Thankfully, there are measures that you can take to avoid this and keep your eyes healthy, even if you have to look at a screen for many hours a day.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, is a term that covers vision and eye problems that come as a result of looking at digital devices with a screen for a prolonged period. Computers, laptops, smartphones, and TVs can cause digital eye strain and affect people of all ages!

When you look at a digital screen, your eyes are working harder, and this can cause strain on the eye. Moreover, people who look at screens while remaining in the same place for hours can suffer from soreness in the body, in addition to eye fatigue. Some factors that cause digital eye strain are poor lighting, screen glare, and reflections, blinking less frequently, viewing a screen at an awkward angle, poor posture while using a digital device, and uncorrected vision problems.

Devices emit blue light, which is one of the major factors that cause problems with eye sight. Regular exposure to blue light can lead to retinal cell damage, which can result in several vision problems such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and eye cancer, to name a few.

In today’s highly digitalized world, screen exposure can be unavoidable, particularly when working on a computer or having to use it for school. But there are some behavioral changes you can practice so you can preserve your eyesight.

What Are The Symptoms Of Digital Eye Strain?

  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Discomfort or pain in the eye
  • Tearing of the eye
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye redness
  • Shoulder and neck pain

Risk Factors of Digital Eye Strain

While anyone who looks at a screen for a long time can be affected by digital eye strain, some are more susceptible to this condition, owing to certain factors such as:

  • Working on a digital device for at least a few hours a day
  • Sitting too close to a screen
  • Viewing a screen from the wrong angle, such as looking up at a TV that is mounted to a wall
  • Not taking a break when using digital devices
  • Wearing glasses that are not suitable for looking at screens at your given distance

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy?

It’s impossible to avoid screens altogether because we have to use them for various daily needs. The key, however, is to maintain a healthy balance between screen time and screen-free time. When you have to use screens, make sure that you follow these tips so you don’t compromise your eye health.

Position Matters

Change the position or the location of the screen. For example, you can position your TV or computer about 15 or 20 degrees below your eye level. This would be about five inches as measured from the center of the screen. The screen itself should be about 20 inches away from your eyes.

Take a Break

Ensure you take a 15-minute break every two hours or so when using a computer. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: you must look away from your screen every 20 minutes and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows you to rest your eyes and reduce the stress placed on them.

If you’re working on a computer, break up your screen time with activities that allow your eyes to rest. For example, walk away from your work desk to talk to coworkers, eat lunch, or grab a coffee.

Blink More

Remember to blink more frequently, as this helps your eyes to stay moist and reduces the risk of dry eyes. Blinking also helps clear away any dust or debris that may have settled in your eyes, resulting in clearer and brighter vision. Since people tend to blink less often when using screens, you must make a conscious effort to blink more often to reduce the strain on your eyes.

Right Lights

Proper lighting is crucial. Your screen should be well positioned in a manner that prevents overhead lights and glare. Sometimes, working in a dark room can aggravate symptoms, so moving to a brighter location or turning on the lights would be a good idea.


Make sure to use good ergonomics in your office. Position the height of your chair and its arms to give proper support when you type. Most workplaces have experts who can help you to set up an ergonomic workstation. When reading off a screen, enlarge the text so you don’t have to strain your eyes as much.

Cut Back

Cut down on screen time, such as using your smartphone or watching TV. Instead, try to engage in activities or hobbies that don’t require a screen. You can do some gardening around the yard, work on art, walk, or play with your kids or pets outside.

Regular Checkups Help

Often, an underlying vision or eye problem can contribute to digital eye strain. Therefore, it’s advisable to get your eyesight checked once every six months. The eye doctor will perform an examination and diagnose any existing eye problems so they can be addressed promptly.

If you’re already wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, talk to your eye doctor about getting lenses specifically designed for screens. This is especially important if you have a job or are involved in any other activity that consists of you using devices with blue light for long periods of time.

Bottom Line

According to several studies, continuous exposure to digital screens can cause irreversible damage to the eye. However, in this day and age, we need to remember that computers and smartphones are not going anywhere; instead, we need to be serious about taking care of our eyes!