Digital eye strain (DES), also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is one of the most common work-related injuries, particularly in the millennial generation. It is caused by staring at computer, tablet or smartphone screens for long periods of time, eventually putting strain on the eyes which can lead to vision problems. Common symptoms of DES include headaches, blurry vision and dry or watering eyes.
I spoke with Brawn Medical, UK-based suppliers of ophthalmic equipment, including ophthalmoscopes, tonometers and slit lamps, for medical professionals and students, to determine how best to avoid digital eye strain.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
This method is used to give your eyes some much needed rest after looking at a computer screen, which is particularly useful if you work in office-based jobs that involve hours of sitting at a desk in front of a screen. The 20-20-20 rule proposes taking a break for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and looking at an object which is 20 feet away from your screen.
If you’re a rather forgetful person or your job is really busy, why not set up on-going reminders for yourself every 20 minutes which pop up on your screen and alerts you to look away for 20 seconds.
Adjust Your Screen Position
The placement of your computer screen is vital for your eyes, as well as your posture. Most workplaces should have suitable health and safety standards in place which determines how you should be sitting to avoid injuries. However, for those who work from home or in co-working spaces, these standards might not be so clear.
Having your screen at a position which is too low, too high, too close by, or too far away causes unnecessary strain on the eyes. Ideally, the monitor should be about 75cm away from your face, which is roughly arm’s length. Moreover, it should be placed in a direct position to your line of vision, instead of sideways.
Reduce Screen Glare
Screen glare can also increase the chances of developing sight problems, but there are several things you can do to reduce its occurrence. First of all, you can try moving your screen away from a direct light source which may be causing the light to reflect into your eyesight.
If glare is still present after moving the monitor, you may want to consider investing in an anti-glare screen cover for your computer monitor, which can be placed over the top of it. Many modern computers come equipped with anti-glare technology already.
People who wear glasses can purchase lenses which have an anti-reflective glaze, which also helps prevent screen glare, whilst filtering out the blue light that is emitted from electronic devices.
Adjust the Settings
The settings which automatically come with your computer are not always the best, which is why adjusting your display settings is recommended. In particular, the brightness setting on your display should be in harmony with your surroundings – not too bright, not too dark. Moreover, adjusting the size of on-screen text is beneficial for the comfort of your eyes so you do not have to strain when reading.
Digital eye strain is a common but easily preventable problem, as long as you take regular breaks from your screen and ensure your work station is adapted to the ideal working conditions.