What Is Digital Eye Strain?

With up to 92% (*1) of the UK population owning a mobile phone and many owning more than one digital device, including televisions, laptops, computers, tablets and even smart watches. It's hard to get away from digital devices!


Eye strain, eye fatigue, dry eye, headaches and even sleeplessness can be caused by Digital Eye Strain, aka computer vision syndrome, and spur from the use of digital devices over prolonged periods. Affecting all ages, digital eye strain can be caused by a number of things, including blue light emission, reduced blink rate, and your screens refresh rate.


When looking at digital devices you will likely tend blink at a slower rate than normal. This can sometimes be accompanied by other factors such as air conditioning and can cause our eyes to feel dry and gritty.

Blue wavelengths of light emitted by screens can affect our sleep/wake pattern know as our circadian rhythm by supressing melatonin (*2) this is the hormone which is affected by day and night.


Headaches can be caused by not taking regular breaks or not having the right visual correction when using the computer.


6 simple tips to help reduce digital eye strain?

Digital devices are now part of the modern 'digital' world and computer vision syndrome can be affected by how long you use digital devices, how many you use and how you have them positioned. Here's 6 simple tips to help reduce eye strain from the use of digital devices:


  1. The 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes on a digital device look away to 20 metres for at least 20 seconds. This helps to give your eyes a break from the closer distance that digital devices tend to be positioned at.

  2. Put devices down at least an hour before bed. By winding down device use an hour before bed it allows our body to recover some of the circadian rhythm and you may find you get a better sleep.

  3. Drops for dry eye. You can’t always control your working environment so dry eye drops from your optician may help to provide lubrications to the eye when working in environments with air conditioning.

  4. Have an eye examination. If you are suffering from headaches when working on digital devices it could be from poor posture or because you need a little bit of help with your vision when using devices. By having a thorough eye examination your optometrist will be able assess your vision at different working distances.

  5. Blue Control Lenses. Blue control lenses are a type of anti-reflection lens which reduces the amount of blue light submitted to the visual system from screens. This lens can be included to many lenses, from single vision to varifocal. Blue control lenses can help to reduce glare from screens and provide a more comfortable, relaxed vision.

  6. Computer Lenses. With the use of devices at a high, many opticians are now able to provide lenses designed to improve visual comfort when looking at devices, particular because you will tend to hold devices at different distances depending on the device. Different lenses are available depending on your visual needs and your prescription so you should talk to your opticians about the best option for you. (We will cover different types of computer lenses in another blog).


(*1) https://www.statista.com/statistics/362521/electronic-device-usage-uk/

(*2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side



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