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Is the digital world causing eye strain?

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iSIGHT Clinic

You probably use screens for just about everything -- to work, to relax, or just to keep up with daily life. If your eyes feel dry and tired, your vision is blurry by the end of the day, or your head, neck, and shoulders ache, all that time with your digital devices might be to blame.

When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. They move back and forth as you read. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes react to changing images on the screen to create so your brain can process what you’re seeing. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare.

Why Do Screens Cause Eyestrain?

Normally, we blink about 15 times a minute. That spreads tears evenly over your eyes, which keeps them from getting dry and irritated. But researchers have found that people blink less than half as often when they’re reading, watching, or playing on a screen. Also, the contrast of text against the background, the glare, and flickering from digital screens can be hard on your eyes.

Prevent Digital Eyestrain

No, you don’t have to cut out all screen time. But a few changes to how your use your smartphones, computers, tablets, and other screens, you can keep from straining your eyes

  • Make sure your computer screen is about 25 inches, or an arm's length, away from your face. The centre of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level
  • Cut glare by using a matte screen filter. You can find them for all types of computers, phones, and tablets
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
  • Take a longer break of about 15 minutes after every 2 hours you spend on your devices
  • Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry
  • Make the text larger
  • Make sure the lighting in the room you’re in is bright enough. You don’t want your device to be brighter than the surroundings
  • If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses
  • Get regular eye exams. You might need to use a different pair of glasses when you’re working on a computer


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