Digital eye strain is so common these days because we can't get away from digital devices.
Think about it, we start our day with an alarm clock on our phone, we peruse IG (and TikTok), view our to-do list and calendar and then check our email — often before we even get out of bed.
Digital eye strain can be as simple as burning and watering eyes or as intrusive as headaches and neck pain.
Here are a few helpful tips to reduce digital eye strain:
1. Don't take your stress to work, meaning don't hop on that device without the best correction for your eyes.
2. Have good lighting with minimal glare.
3. Don't get too close. Keep a good 20-24 inches of distance from the computer screen and view with the center of the computer monitor about 4-5 inches below your line of sight.
4. Take breaks. No, this doesn't give you an excuse to leave work to grab coffee at the new coffee shop in East Village (shoutout because Fidel & Co is amazing), but instead follow the 20/20/20 rule. This means taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes and looking 20 feet away.
Sometimes we can't look that far, but take those eyes off of the screen a few times an hour and look as far away as you can. It relaxes those muscles. (Pro tip: There are apps and browser extensions that will send you reminders every 20 minutes.)
5. Blink! Be intentional about blinking your eyes. We blink much less when behind a device, and we need these tears to reduce burning, irritation and watering of the eyes.
And because your life doesn't begin and end at the office, here are some ways to help keep your eyes healthy away from screens:
- Keep your heart healthy. Through a routine eye exam, we can view blood vessels in the back of the eye that can be affected by several systemic conditions.
- Wear your sunnies. Not just on a bright day, but when outdoors and exposed to UV light. (Pro tip: They need to protect from both UVA and UVB while being fashion-forward, of course.)
- Preventative care. Be proactive, not reactive. Communicate with your optometrist about your visual demands and work station, like how far your computer is from your eyes, how many monitors you work on, etc.
Dr. Julie Dolven is an optometric physician at James Eyecare & Optics Gallery in Little Rock.