Are your eyes paying the price for spending several hours per day on your smartphone, laptop or work computer? By committing as little as two hours per day to screen time, you are highly likely to show symptoms.
So what can you do? Digital eye strain is an irritating condition, and prolonged exposure to short wavelength blue light (like the kind that comes from your computer monitor) can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. If you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, we recommend lenses with an Essilor Prevencia coating.
Having said that, some serious eye diseases exhibit symptoms similar to eye strain, so visit our practice for an eye health exam and confirmation of your diagnosis before trying to relieve symptoms.
While a detailed eye exam is the only way to definitively diagnose eye strain, you should be aware of any of the following symptoms:
Particularly if these symptoms are affecting your job, you should come in for an exam. If it is eye strain, we can discuss practical changes you can make to your routine in order to overcome symptoms and, preferably, avoid recurrence further down the line.
When looking at any object, or reading text, our eyes cleverly focus so that we can perceive that object clearly. Our focusing muscles, when fatigued, struggle to perform this task efficiently and this manifests itself as the known symptoms of digital eye strain.
Using screens forces our eyes to work harder than normal, hence the increase in eye strain across Canada as our daily dependence on screens rises.
The simplest, easiest and cheapest way to reduce your symptoms is to take a 20-30 second break a few times an hour. Focus on a distant object, relax your eye muscles and then get back to work – this tiny change in routine has been proven very effective for easing mild symptoms.
In fact, most treatment options revolve around simple, easy-to-implement changes:
If you work at a laptop, your screen is probably far too close to your eyes - this makes focusing even harder for your tiring muscles. Try to have your screen at eye-level, but 2 feet or so away. You can even adjust your colour settings to boost contrast and limit brightness to lessen the load.
Glare is a key factor. If you can prevent sun or lamp light from reflecting off your screen onto your eyes, you’ll notice an almost-immediate difference. Consider adding soft, warm background lighting in behind your monitor - this helps your eyes focus more naturally, reducing fatigue.
It should go without saying (but we never assume when it comes to your eye care!) that you should never use a laptop or smartphone in a dark room. This will accelerate eye strain substantially, as well as making it much harder to fall asleep.
You can find us on the corner of St Paul St and 3rd Ave. We are 3 blocks down 3rd Ave from Royal Inland Hospital, towards downtown. Our office is across the street from the Telus Store and Stuart Wood school yard (where the summer Farmer’s Market is on Saturdays).