By James Sementilli, OD
We live in a digital world.
More and more I see patients who complain of irritated and tired eyes. And when we talk about the reasons, most times the patients say they are staring at computer screens, smart phones and video game monitors throughout their days. These problems are being experienced by everyone from your kids to senior citizens, whose eyes hurt from looking at computer screens too long.
The reasons for the problem are really pretty simple.
- When you look at a digital device, you probably hold it closer than you hold books and newspapers, forcing your eyes to work harder.
- You have a tendency to blink less often when staring at a computer screen. Eye strain can result.
- Your eye muscles are overloaded when you work at a computer: having to continuously focus, moving back and forth, lining up with what you are seeing onscreen, looking down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes also have to battle screen contrast, flicker and glare.
All of these activities can cause head, neck or back pain, eye pain, tiredness, redness, burning and even double vision or loss of focus. (Read more about Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.)
The good news is there are some things you can do to help your eyes as you function in the digital world:
- Place digital and computer screens 20-26 inches away from your eyes and a little below eye level. Use a glare filter and keep the monitors bright.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule to relax eye muscles: every 20 minutes, focus your eyes on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Tension in this area will cause a tension in your eyes.
- Blink frequently.
- If you or your kids wear glasses, be sure to get anti-glare lenses.
- Use artificial tear drops at night.
(Dr. James Sementilli is a licensed optometrist in the states of New York and Illinois. He is employed with LensCrafters and has been in practice since 1984. He is a graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry.)