Your Vision & Screens

May is Healthy Vision Month and we want to address eye problems related to screens.  

According to the American Optometric Association, symptoms of computer vision syndrome are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.  This can be caused by poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, being too close or too far away from the screen, poor posture, air moving past the eyes, and uncorrected vision problems.  Most of these problems stop when people stop looking at devices, but some people continue to experience problems.  Continuing screen use despite problems can lead to worsening of symptoms.  

The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes in order to protect your eyes.  They additionally recommend resting your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use.  They make apps and programs to remind you to do this.  

To prevent dry eyes, you can blink frequently.  If your eyes feel dry, you can use artificial tears.  You can also use a humidifier.  Contact lens users are more likely to experience these problems.  If you wear contact lens, giving your eyes a break, cleaning your contact lens regularly, and not sleeping in your contact lens will help as well.  

You may also want to get your eyes checked for vision problems.  Yearly eye exams are recommended.  Some glasses and contact lenses filter out the blue light of computer screens that heavily contributes to eye strain.  Even if you don’t need glasses, glasses are made which filter out blue light from screens.  There are additional apps or settings to filter out the blue light on mobile devices and the monitor of your computer may also be able to be adjusted to filter out blue light. 

In order to reduce glare on the screen, you can move the computer screen or use curtains on windows or use lower watt lamps.  Or you can use a screen glare filter.  Also, keep your computer screen clean, as dust and dirt can increase glare.   

Optimally, the computer should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level and 20-28 inches from the eyes.  Keep any work that you have as close to the computer so that your eyes don’t have to switch focus as much.  As a rule of thumb, the larger the monitor, the farther away from the screen you should be.  If you find yourself leaning forward to read, move your face closer to the screen.  If you find yourself leaning backward, move your chair farther away from the screen.  If you find yourself craning or slumping to see the computer, you will want to adjust your viewing angle.   

Finally, blue light exposure can make it difficult to sleep at night.  It disrupts our bodies’ natural sleep-wake cycle.  It is recommended to turn off screens at least two hours before bed.  If you absolutely have to use the screen before bed, turning on night mode (or high contrast mode) and lowering the brightness of the screen will help.  These days, many phones automatically adjust the brightness of the screen, so you may have to turn this off, or you may find that the brightness of your screen is already adjusted.  Many browsers have extensions that will do this also.  Doing these things during the day may also help with eyestrain, but you may find that you have difficulty seeing the screen in the sunlight.  

If you need assistance setting up blue light filters on your devices or need other things made accessible on your device, contact Tech Lab at 414-208-4682 or fill out our contact form. If you experience computer vision syndrome, consult your eye doctor.

(The American Optometric Association website was consulted to write this blog post.)