Digital eye strain

Easy on the Eyes

July 23, 2021
By Bytewrthy
In Eco-Wellness

Digital eye strain

By 2016, US consumers were spending over 8 hours a day across TV, phones, smartwatches and other connected devices. By 2019, daily screen time reached over 10 hours. With COVID, daily screen time shot through the roof and most became all too familiar with eye strain: fatigued, dry, itchy eyes, and headaches.

Blue light, the short-wavelength, high-intensity light waves produced by LED screens, has been raising concerns for some time for its possible detrimental effects on sleep and vision, and blue light blocking glasses and screen filters are hot commodities. Google searches for “blue light blocking glasses” tripled from mid-March to early May 2020.

However, together with heightened interest came a reexamination of the facts and the realization that most ill effects of blue light were only speculative. Blue light might well have a negative impact on sleep, but it is unlikely the main culprit for a 2pm headache. Your eyes do receive far more blue light from natural sunlight than from the screens you are staring at.

Staring itself, more than the screen light, leads to screen fatigue, which can be avoided through behavioral changes rather than acquiring expensive glasses. Here are a handful of simple, no-cost ideas that should help.

The 20/20/20 Rule

Eye strain occurs for three reasons: you’re staring at a screen, the screen lighting is bright on your eyes, and the screen is in close proximity to you. A common recommendation is to change/shift focus periodically to relax eye muscles: every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds and focus on an object 20 feet away from you.

Adjust Screens and Lighting, Reduce Glare

♦ Keep monitors an arms’ length away, and position them so that your eyes gaze slightly down to the center of the screen.

♦ Keep ambient lighting warm and not overly bright (adjust monitors and tablets to a low blue-light, a warmer setting cannot hurt); set screen brightness to be similar to the room lighting.

♦ Go for high contrast, with dark text on white background. While dark themes are esthetically pleasing to some, they are functionally suboptimal.

♦ Do reduce glare. You will likely find good quality glare-reducing lenses to be more effective than blue light blockers.

Keep Eyes Moist

When you stare, you don’t blink as much, and eyes get dry. Consciously remember to blink, and if necessary, use eye-drops. (Lean towards clean lubricating eye solutions and avoid preservative-heavy or medicated drops.)

Pamper Your Eyes

Warm (not hot!) compresses relax muscles and help restore moisture. Cool pressure can also be soothing. The magic is mostly in the compress. A clean cloth and water will do just fine, but higher-tech eye-massaging goggles were all but out of stock earlier this summer, alongside free weights, and exercise mats!

Refreshingly, the solution to high-tech fatigue is low-tech. You don’t really need an app for that.

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