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7 Simple Tips to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Woman coding on dual screen in office

Technology and screens are causing eye strain. A lot of eye strain.

In this article, you'll find out how to prevent Digital Eye Strain. Plus, you’ll also learn how to protect your eyes while using technology and screens.

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Whether it's a smartphone or a laptop, we're now using devices more frequently than ever. In fact, we use technology so much that an estimated 60 million people report Digital Eye Strain.

Digital eye strain is a condition caused by prolonged device use. Generally speaking, it builds up over time. The irritation and discomfort you feel can be the result of many different issues.

Common symptoms include:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Eye twitching

Why we get Digital Eye Strain

When we look at digital devices our eyes have to process pixels, which make our eye muscles work harder in order to focus. What’s more, screens add contrast, flicker, and glare, which all add additional stress to your eyes.

We are also exposed to high-energy visible light which is harsh on our eyes may lead to increased irritation.

How to prevent Digital Eye Strain

Here are 7 simple steps you can take to prevent the onset of Digital Eye Strain:

Woman at office desk with eye strain and headache

1. Visit an optician

Visiting a professional optician is the best way to prevent or (diagnose) Digital Eye Strain. The UK National Health Service recommends visiting an optician for an eye test at least every two years.

Their professional advice can also help you rule out any other health issues.

Informing your optician about your digital device use can help them understand how your eyes interact with technology on a daily basis. It's good to come equipped with details like how far you sit from the screen and how many hours your spend using technology daily.

Take our Digital Vision Quiz to get an indication of your digital device usage.

2. Be conscious about your lighting

Digital Eye Strain can be caused when the light from your surroundings is too bright or too dark.

Bright light from outdoor sunlight or harsh interior lighting can be overly bright and create an unnatural contrast between your surroundings and the screen.

As a rule of thumb, when you use a computer the interior lighting should be half as bright as what is found in most offices. You can use blinds or lower intensity bulbs to reduce the brightness.

Equally, if your room is too dark, the contrast between your surroundings and the screen will cause your eyes to work harder and fatigue more quickly than they normally would. This is the reason why TV backlights exist.

3. Adjust your device display settings

You can help to prevent Digital Eye Strain by adjusting two settings:

  • Brightness: Adjust the brightness of your screen's display so it's approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding area. You can look at the white background of this page as a test. If it looks like a light source, it's too bright. If it seems dull and grey, it may be too dark.
  • Color temperature: This is a technical term to describe the spectrum of color emitted by a digital display. LED monitors emit high intensity visible light. This light has a shorter wavelength which means it is harsher on our eyes. You can reduce the color temperature so it emits less blue light. One way is by using an app like f.lux. Dark mode can also help your stay eyes stay more relaxed when it's late at night.
  • Contrast: The contrast of the screen is the ratio of the white color to the black. Setting the right contrast ratio is crucial for relaxing the eyes. Human eyes distinguish the best if white appears on a black background and vice versa. Hence, the contrast ratio should be higher for the eyes to lessen the stress on the eyes. Try to avoid low contrast color schemes as they are stressful and result in eye strain and fatigue.
  • Text size: When text is too small your eyes have to strain harder to focus and read it. Ensure text on your screen is at a comfortable size for your eyes. As a general rule: text should be three times the smallest size you can read from a normal viewing position. Depending on your device or application, you should be able to adjust text size in the settings.

4. Apply the 20-20-20 rule (and blink more often)

Two men talking in cafe with laptops

Another cause of Digital Eye Strain is the fatigue caused by focusing for long periods of time. To reduce the risk of your eyes tiring, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and focus on a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

This is called the 20-20-20 rule. Focusing on something further away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue. We created a timer to remind you when to take breaks. Download it here.

And, don’t forget to blink. Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. In addition, tears that lubricate the eye evaporate more rapidly during long non-blinking phases and this can cause dry eyes.

However, when we work at a computer, we tend to blink less frequently — about one-third as often as we normally would — and many blinks are not completed fully, according to studies.

5. Take regular breaks

If you are using digital devices it is important to take regular breaks.

The human body is designed for movement. Yet, it's often the case that when we're using technology we're stuck in the same position.

Getting up every few minutes and performing stretches can help to reduce the buildup of tension caused by prolonged technology use. This can help to alleviate neck, back and shoulder pain, all of which can contribute to the effects of Digital Eye Strain.

And, if you're at work, this will give you the added benefit of being more productive.

6. Adjust your workstation

If you're using a computer at a desk, the Vision Council suggests that the optimal distance for your screen is about 25 inches (roughly an arm's length) away from your face.

The height of your screen is also important: the center of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level.

An ergonomically designed desk chair can help to position your neck and head to reduce strain.

Or, why not try a standing desk can strain on your neck and shoulders. A study found that use of a sit-stand desk reduced upper back and neck pain by 54% after just 4 weeks.

7. Buy computer glasses

Computer glasses can prevent or alleviate Digital Eye Strain by:

  • Reducing glare: Your eyes have to constantly focus and relax to read pixels on screens which puts more stress on your eye muscles.
  • Filtering high intensity light: Too much blue light can lead to eye strain, headaches and sleep cycle disruption.

LUMES lenses have a premium Anti-Glare coating, preventing unnecessary feedback from entering your eyes. It helps to reduce digital eye strain, visual fatigue and blurred vision. Our glasses also filter blue light from digital devices. Even though they’re virtually clear, LUMES lenses filter out the highest energy wavelengths of 420-440 nm.

Explore the LUMES range:


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