What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital Eye Strain, also referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is the physical discomfort associated with spending long periods of time staring at a digital screen.
At the end of a long day at work, when your eyes are burning and your head is pounding, that’s one effect of digital eye strain. When you can’t sleep at night after bingeing on Netflix, that’s another. There’s plenty more ways that the condition can manifest itself, and over 90% of digital employees are experiencing at least one regularly.
It has become more recognised as a medical condition as usage of devices emitting artificial light have become increasingly popular and prolonged over the past decade.
What causes it?
Eye strain, in its simplest form, is associated with staring at an object at short, fixed distance for a long period of time. When you are paying attention to and reading information, your eyes are repeating the same back and forth movement over and over again, creating stress on the muscles of the eye.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you were reading a book or newspaper. But when you’re looking at screen, you’ve got to contend with the added problem of blue light.Blue light is what’s known as a HEV light, or high-energy visible light, with short wavelengths of 400-500 nanometers. Any light with wavelengths shorter than this are classified as the commonly known and dangerous ultraviolet light.
But studies have shown that blue light can be dangerous also, with some suggesting that, in the long term, it may damage the cells of the retina, leading to conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Think about it, you wouldn’t expose your eyes to UV rays for such long and regular periods of time, would you?
What are the symptoms?It’s likely that you’re experiencing digital eye strain and didn’t realise it was an avoidable condition. Over 90% of sufferers complain of at least ONE of the following:
- Eye Fatigue and tired eyes
- Sleep disruption
- Eye Strain
- Dry and itchy eyes
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Blurred vision
- General fatigue
- Sleep disruption in particular is becoming a major problem amongst our digital generation. A recent study from the University of Houston in Texas studied the effects of blue light on the melatonin levels (sleep-inducing hormone) of subjects. They concluded that those who wore blue-light blocking glasses before bed showed a 58% increase in melatonin production, and hence found it easier to fall asleep.
- More worryingly, and while no definitive evidence has been published, there is certainly strong and growing evidence from researchers that suggests blue light exposure is leading to long-term eye damage. A paper published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) reports that “the blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) more than any other rays in the spectrum”. While a Harvard Medical paper states that “high energy visible (HEV) blue light has been identified for years as the most dangerous light for the retina.”
How can I prevent it?
What is important is that we recognise the clear links between screen exposure and, at best, eye discomfort, and, at worst, cell damage in the eye. We must then take measures to lower our risk and ensure that our working days are spent with some degree of comfort and protection.
- Firstly invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Our lenses block over 55% of harmful blue light and are coated with a premium anti-reflective layer. Our glasses protect your eyes from digital eye strain and ensure a more comfortable and healthy working day.Try and maintain further distance from the screen and improve your posture so that the monitor is slightly below eye level
- Take a break and use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and focus on something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
- There is a variety of software programs that promise to drain the blue light from your screen and, in turn, decrease your susceptibility. However, these programs will distort the screens colour and will not follow you from device to device.