Electronic media has become a part of our everyday lives. Computers, digital books, iPods, video games, cell phones and social media are changing the world we live in. We see the changes even here in the clinic. I often ask a patient if they would like a magazine while they are waiting. The most common response: “No, I have my phone.” While I chuckle every time, I am sure that is what I would say as well.
What we often forget about is the consequences of our actions. In this case, digital eyestrain. The average american kid (8-18 years of age) consumes about 6 hours of media use each day.² The time increases to 8 1/2 hours per day when media multi-tasking, such as using the computer while watching TV.² A large number of adults report computer work as a main part of their job.
Some common symptoms of eyestrain are headaches, blurred vision and dry eye.
Here are some tips to help avoid digital eyestrain:
Blink. Such a simple way to decrease eyestrain. People tend to blink less when looking at a screen than when not. Make a point of blinking often to prevent fatigue and dryness.
Lighten up. Use a small desk lamp and close your blinds. The goal is to reduce the glare on your monitor. Proper window treatments, reducing bright light sources, and using glare reduction filters on your monitor will be more comfortable on your eyes.
20/20/20 rule. When using a device for long periods of time, rest every 20 minutes by staring at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Have regular eye exams. Eye exams will check the health of your eyes and ensure that you have the correct eyeglass or contact lens prescription (if necessary). Be sure to tell your eye doctor about the computer work that you do and the average amount of time you spend on electronic media. Your doctor will be able to customize a plan for you to keep your eyes healthy and feeling great!
American Optometric Association. The Effects of Computer Use on Eye Health and Vision. 2007. Retrieved from http://www.aoa.org/documents/EffectsComputerUse.pdf
“From The Future
of Children, a collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at
Princeton University and the Brookings Institution.” 2008. Retrieved from http://ccf.tc.columbia.edu/pdf/Children%20and%20Electronic%20Media_Spring%2008.pdf