Jeffrey H. Brown, OD Rising Risks of Digital Eye Strain During Quarantine
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You and your kids are staying home, practicing social distancing in order to reduce the potential spread of Covid-19. It’s certainly the responsible, safe thing to do. However, the current stay-at-home lifestyle has also led to people spending more time on digital devices. Screen time is dedicated to both work and leisure, which keeps everyone busy and entertained, but unfortunately, it has also led to a higher rate of digital eyestrain and other vision complications.
More people of all ages have been visiting our eye clinic complaining of uncomfortable or painful vision, and our optometrist regularly diagnoses digital eyestrain. To protect yourself from a range of annoying symptoms, read these eye care tips to prevent computer vision problems:
Pay attention to position
When you sit down at your office desk, it’s probably equipped with ergonomic furniture and set at the perfect height. But your home workspace may not meet the same requirements. Take care to position your computer screen about an arm’s length and slightly beneath your line of vision. This will protect both your eyes from strain, as well as your posture and neck. Additionally, good back support will reduce discomfort caused by sitting for long periods. To reduce glare and accompanying eye fatigue, point your screen away from any bright lights.
Take coffee breaks
Even if you’re not in the mood for another java, regular breaks to stand up and stretch are vital for your body and eyes! Get up and walk around your house a bit. Any activity that allows you to look away from your screen will give your body and eye muscles a well-needed respite.
Watch for warning signs
In general, our eye doctor hears patients complain about the following computer vision symptoms when they visit our eye clinic:
- HeadachesWhen the pain is concentrated at the front of your head, it’s typically vision related. When it’s at the back of your head, it’s usually posture related. If your temples are throbbing, it’s probably tension.
- Neck and shoulder painThis is a direct result of a poorly positioned workspace. Your chair, screen, desk and keyboard all need to be aligned correctly for healthy posture.
- Blurry visionIf blinking clears up your sight, it could indicate a dry eye problem. But if your blurred vision usually occurs at the end of the day, it could point to mild farsightedness that’s being exacerbated by so many hours of close work.
- Dry eyesProlonged screen time leads to reduced blinking, which leaves your eyes exposed and compromises your moisturizing tear film. Burning or itching eyes are usual symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Computers can compromise children’s eye health
During quarantine, kids depend heavily on digital devices for entertainment and socializing. There are no afternoon clubs or groups to attend, minimal opportunities to socialize, and education itself has become remote in most places. Computers are filling a range of roles in kids’ lives.
While digital tech has been highly successful at keeping children occupied and happy, research also shows that kids who don’t spend time outdoors are at an increased risk for myopia (nearsightedness) and progressive myopia, especially if it runs in the family.
During the pandemic, more and more parents are bringing their children to our eye care provider for eye exams. The most typical signs of a problem include:
- Squinting at the TV or moving closer and closer to the screen
- Headaches, particularly at the end of the day
- Difficulty reading (when they didn’t have previous trouble)
- Problems sleeping at night
Tips from our optometrist
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule for ocular health: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet into the distance for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes feel comfortable for longer.
- Keep appropriate distance from screens: mobile phones should be about one foot from the face, desktops and laptops should be about two feet away, and TV screens should be about 10 feet away
- Encourage kids to engage in physical activity outdoors, taking permitted walks or even kicking a ball around the backyard
- Drink enough to stay hydrated
- Remember to blink regularly
- Don’t use digital devices within 2 hours of bedtime, so the blue light doesn’t disrupt your circadian rhythms
Suffering from digital eye strain? Our eye doctor can help! Stop by our eye clinic to learn more about various strategies and products that can prevent and soothe the painful symptoms of computer vision.
Jeffrey H. Brown, OD, your Costa Mesa eye doctor for eye exams and eye care
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