With technology increasingly taking over our daily lives—becoming an ever-growing part of our work, academic, and personal time—we’re all at a greater risk of encountering digital eye strain.
What is it, exactly?
Maybe after a long day at work, or after a Netflix binge on your tablet, your eyes feel dry or watery. Or maybe your vision even feels a little blurry or you have a headache. Hate to break it to you, but you may be experiencing digital eye strain (DES)—also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)—which is an eye and vision related issue experienced after staring at device screens (computers, cell phones, e-readers and tablets) for too long.
How do you know if you’re experiencing it?
There are many different symptoms. Some people experience just one or two, while others experience most, if not all of them. According to the American Optometric Association, the following are some of the more common symptoms of digital eye strain:
Okay, but why does this happen?
The reasons behind digital eye strain are two-fold.
First, when we focus on specific visual tasks for extended periods of time (reading a book, staring at a monitor) the ciliary muscle in our eyes—the muscle that helps us see objects at varying distances—begins to tighten. This tightening results in our eyes feeling irritated. And, when working on tablets or computers, our eyes are constantly focusing, refocusing, moving back and forth and reacting to our changing screens. All of this takes a heavy toll on on our eye muscles. Plus, we often hold our tablets or smartphones up close to our eyes, which strains them even more.
Second, the glare of our devices actually causes further eye strain and headaches. Along with the glare, our device screens emit blue light, also known as high-energy visible light (HEV light). While the light renders our devices more energy efficient, it actually contributes to digital eye strain by making our eyes work harder to focus.
How do you combat digital eye strain?
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the symptoms that come with digital eye strain. Here are some suggestions:
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