As digitalization takes over, more and more people are looking at screens for prolonged periods of time, which can put a lot of strain on the eyes. It goes without saying that digital use/extended screen time has become the No.1 reason for increased eye strain.
About 70% of Americans report having digital eye strain, and it’s not just affecting adults – even kids are at risk. According to a survey done by the American Optometric Association, about 80% of children (10-17 years of age) were found to experience some symptoms of eye strain after using a digital device. With eye strain so common you should consider buying one of the 7 Best Monitors for Eyes.
In such a scenario, it becomes important to know what causes eye strain and how you can get rid of it. Today, this article will discuss the top 3 causes of eye strain and some effective solutions to get rid of it.
Eye Strain – Top 3 Causes
The list would be endless if we were to talk about every single cause of eye strain. So, to make things easier for you, we have grouped eye strain causes into 3 broad categories – Computer/ Digital Use, Underlying Medical Issues, and Lifestyle Choices. Let’s take a look at each of these in detail:
Computer/ Digital Use
Eye strain caused due to too much digital use is also commonly referred to as “computer vision syndrome” or “digital eye strain.” It is the most common type of eye strain and is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Tired eyes
- Dry eyes
- Blurry vision
- Neck and shoulder pain
It’s not just the duration but even how you use your devices that strain your eyes. For example, if you’re working on a laptop placed too low, you tend to hunch over, which results in increased strain on the eyes and neck. Similarly, if you’re looking at your phone in the dark or bright light, it can also lead to eye strain.
One of the major reasons for digital eye strain is “blue light” emitted from screens. This blue light not only tires your eyes but also suppresses the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you feel sleepy) and, as a result, keeps you awake for long periods of time. This can take a toll on your sleep cycle and overall health.
One of the most effective ways to prevent digital eye strain is the 20-20-20 rule. Simply, take a break every 20 minutes of screen time and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Here are some more tips that can help:
- Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size on your devices.
- Place your devices at an appropriate distance and the right level. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level.
- Blink often to keep your eyes lubricated.
- Invest in a good quality anti-blue light screen protector.
- Use artificial tears to relieve dry eyes.
- Wear computer glasses to filter out blue light and reduce glare.
Underlying Medical Issues
Sometimes, eye strain can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. For example, if you have astigmatism (an imperfection in the curvature of your eye’s lens or cornea), it can cause your eyes to work harder, which leads to fatigue and strain. Similarly, if you have presbyopia (age-related farsightedness), you may experience eye strain while reading or doing other close-up work.
Other medical conditions that can cause eye strain or contribute to it are:
- Dry eye syndrome
- Eye fatigue
- Uncorrected vision problems
If your eye strain is persistent and is accompanied by other symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or nausea, it is best to visit an eye doctor. They can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.
In some cases, you may need glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision. If you already wear them, make sure that they’re up-to-date.
If you have underlying medical conditions like allergies or dry eye syndrome, follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment. It may include using artificial tears, taking allergy medication, or using punctal plugs.
Lifestyle choices or environmental factors are another major cause of eye strain. Today, a major part of the population leads a sedentary lifestyle, meaning we spend long hours indoors with little or no exposure to natural light. Moreover, almost all white-collar jobs require us to stare at computer screens for long hours. Add to that the fact that we are constantly exposed to artificial lighting, and it’s no wonder our eyes are strained.
Other lifestyle choices that can lead to eye strain are:
- Working in low light
- Inadequate or interrupted sleep
- Driving for long distances
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor nutrition
To reduce eye strain, it’s important to take breaks and give your eyes a rest. Whether you work in front of a computer all day or drive for hours, take a break from time to time. It’ll help relieve the strain on your eyes and prevent them from getting fatigued.
It’s also important to get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep gives your eyes some much-needed rest and helps reduce the risk of strain.
Make sure that you eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. This will help keep your eyes hydrated and improve your overall eye health.
If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your eyesight. Smoking increases the risk of several eye conditions, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. It also dries out your eyes and can lead to eye strain.
Try to reduce screen time as much as possible. Of course, this may not be possible if you work in front of a computer. But in your free time, try limiting your screen exposure to about 2 hours or less.
We hope our article has helped you understand the different causes of eye strain and what you can do to prevent it. Eye strain is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. Remember, if you experience persistent eye strain or other symptoms like headaches or nausea, be sure to see an eye doctor.