Five Tips for Managing Digital Eye Strain

Lifespan Physician Group Ophthalmology

If you use a computer, smartphone or tablet, chances are you’ve probably experienced some form of digital eye strain.

Staring at a screen for prolonged periods of time can lead to eye ache, irritation, pain, watering or burning.  Some people can even get headaches.

Many of us don’t have a choice when it comes to using these digital devices. We need to use them for work - and for life! So how do we manage eye strain?

Here are five simple tips:

  1. Move your computer to just below eye level.  When we use computers or digital devices or read a book, we stare.  We automatically forget to blink as much as we normally do.  Blinking is the natural way to moisten the eyes.  By moving the computer to just below eye level, we tend to blink more and stare a little less. 
  2. Take a break.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially in the middle of a busy work day or if you’re on a deadline.  But even closing your eyes for a few seconds can help re-moisten your eyes and relieve some eye strain.  You can also try the 20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look out across the room or out the window for 20 seconds.
  3. Avoid working right next to a fan or air conditioner or heating unit.  These units can exacerbate eye strain by evaporating the tear film covering your eyes.  If you’re chilly or hot and do need the heater or AC, try to place your desk away from these units.
  4. Reduce glare.  Glare from surrounding lighting can strain your eyes. Try minimizing the glare from blinds or from fluorescent bulbs. Some people find using an anti-reflective anti-glare film over their phone, tablet, or computer monitor helps.
  5. Change your screen’s lighting settings.  Consider changing your screen’s brightness settings to a level that is more comfortable for you. 

If you continue to experience eye irritation or, if you have other symptoms, don’t assume you just have digital eye strain.  Visit your eye doctor.  Your eye doctor will examine your eyes and tell you if something else is wrong.  If it is eye strain, your eye doctor can tell you if you have certain eye conditions that can worsen eye strain and what you can do to treat it.