Proper lenses and developing a new habit can alleviate computer-related eye strain.
People are working longer and longer on computers, and their eyes are getting tired a lot of the time. It’s one of the most common problems I hear from my patients.
It’s a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome, and it can lead to eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and even neck and shoulder pain. These screens — computers, smartphones and tablets — emit high energy visible (HEV) light. This type of light, also called blue light, penetrates eyes easily and is not blocked by the cornea or lenses. It shines right through and hits the back of your eyes.
It’s that blue light that causes fatigue. Considering all the time people spend on the computer at work and then playing on their phone — and I’m guilty of that, I play on my phone all the time — it’s easy to understand why so many people develop this condition.
For people who wear glasses, there are special corrective lenses called blue blockers that can greatly reduce the glare from electronic device screens. It’s an added cost, but it is proven to be effective.
But what works best is if you follow a simple 20/20 rule. This is what I tell a lot of my patients: You use the computer a lot, but your eyes aren’t necessarily bad, they just get tired. So after using your computer for 20 minutes, take a 20-second break.
Instead of looking 20 inches away, roughly the distance between your eyes and the computer screen, look 20 feet away and do 20 mild to hard blinks. When you stare at a bright, close screen too long your vision can almost lock up on you. By looking 20 feet away and blinking 20 times you are refreshing your eyes and breaking that lock.
For computer users, it’s typically more comfortable to view the screen when the eyes are looking downward — approximately 4 or 5 inches below eye level and at least 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. You can also purchase filters for your screen that minimize glare.
A lot of people also complain about overhead fluorescent lighting and the eye fatigue it causes.
In some cases, people may be allowed to turn off those overhead lights, but if you’re not careful that can become counterintuitive. You could end up relying on the light from your computer monitor, and that can actually make your eyes more tired. It’s good to have a side lamp to provide extra, indirect lighting.
Light strain affects everybody, every day, and it’s something a lot of people don’t think about. But with the right lenses and exercises you can find relief.