Lexington Eye Associates, Inc. and the American Academy of Ophthalmology offers tips to avoid dry, strained eyes
Lexington, MA — March 9, 2020 – A recent study found that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours per year in front of a computer screen. And that doesn’t include our addiction to phones and other digital devices. All this screen time has led to an increase in complaints of eye strain, dry eye, headaches, and insomnia. During Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March, Lexington Eye Associates, Inc. and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering tips to desk workers everywhere whose eyes may need relief from too much screen time.
Why does computer use strain the eyes
more than reading print material? Mainly because people tend to blink less
while using computers. Focusing the eyes on computer screens or other digital
displays has been shown to reduce a person’s blink rate by a third to a half,
which tends to dry out the eyes. We also tend to view digital devices at
less than ideal distances or angles.
You don’t need to buy expensive computer glasses to
get relief. In fact, a study published last month concluded that blue light filters are no more effective at reducing the symptoms of
digital eye strain than a neutral filter.
Instead, try altering your environment with these simple tips:
- Keep your distance: The eyes actually have to work harder to see close up than far away. Try keeping the monitor or screen at arm’s length, about 25 inches away. Position the screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
- Reduce glare: Glass screens can produce glare that can aggravate the eye. Try using a matte screen filter.
- Adjust lighting: If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light, your eyes have to work harder to see. Adjust your room lighting and try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain.
- Give your eyes a break: Remember to blink and follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking into the distance allows your eyes to relax.
- Keep eyes moist: Keep artificial tears at hand to help lubricate your eyes when they feel dry. Consider using a desktop humidifier. Office buildings have humidity-controlled environments that suck moisture out of the air. In winter, heaters on high can further dry your eyes.
- Stop using devices before bed: There is evidence that blue light may affect the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural wake and sleep cycle. During the day, blue light wakes us up and stimulates us. So, too much blue light exposure late at night from your phone or other devices may make it harder to get to sleep. Limit screen time one to two hours before bedtime. Use nighttime settings on devices and computers that minimize blue light exposure.
“Eyestrain can be frustrating. But it
usually isn’t serious and goes away once you rest your eyes or take other steps
to reduce your eye discomfort,” said Dianna L. Seldomridge, M.D., clinical
spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “If these tips don’t
work for you, you may have an underlying eye problem, such as eye muscle
imbalance or uncorrected vision, which can cause or worsen computer eyestrain.”
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Academy is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, it protects sight and empowers lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for its patients and the public. The Academy innovates to advance the profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Through its EyeSmart® articles on AAO.org, the Academy provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.
Angela Casazza, MHA, PMP