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Do you suffer from Digital Eye Strain?

Do you suffer from Digital Eye Strain?

Most people experience eye strain and ‘tired eyes’ at some stage, often leading to blurred vision, poor concentration, visual discomfort and even headaches...

Usually this wears off with rest, but it can also be a symptom of an underlying optical condition that requires treatment.

On one hand, eye strain can be caused simply by too much glare, reading or watching TV. On the other hand, it may be due to presbyopia, astigmatism, an imbalance in your eye’s muscles, or a change in your optical prescription so that your glasses no longer have the correct lenses to meet your needs. Astigmatism, for example, can be a major cause. It occurs when the shape of your eye is not completely spherical, and this affects how images are focused on the retina. Things can appear indistinct and blurred, which in turn can lead to visual discomfort.

One area of concern is the huge increase in the use of digital devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. These multiply the potential stress on your eyes because they may require closer reading distances compared to a book or paper. As a result your eyes need to focus more intensively, sometimes squinting, and this puts extra strain on their muscles. In a recent US study nearly 70% of adults said they experienced symptoms of ‘digital eye strain’ (DES).

DES can be prevalent in contact lens wearers. They need to blink regularly and have a good tear film on their eyes to wear contact lenses comfortably. However it has been found that frequent users of digital devices have a reduced blink rate and incomplete eyelid closure. This can result in an uneven and thin distribution of their tear film, leading to dry eyes and a ‘gritty’ feeling.

DES is also associated with too much eye muscle activity. Research suggests there is a link between discomfort and the blood flow to certain eye muscles. Pain around the eye may originate from over-use of the muscles that are used when squinting - perhaps from staring too long at a smart phone.

Digital devices are an integral feature of modern life, yet it’s too early to say if their constant use will lead to any serious visual problems. But digital eye strain is now recognised as something which should be avoided wherever possible.

So what can be done to reduce its symptoms? Here are four key tips:

  • Don’t spend long periods on a digital device without taking regular breaks. We recommend you also adopt the 20/20/20 rule - every 20 minutes of screen time, look away and focus on an object approx. 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help to relax your eye muscles and reduce potential discomfort.
  • Have spectacle lenses with an anti-reflection treatment. This will reduce glare and help your vision.
  • Have regular eye tests when recommended by your optometrist. This will ensure you have the right glasses or contact lenses for your lifestyle and prescription. It’s also an important health check that can detect conditions which could affect your vision in the future.
  • If you regularly experience eye strain, blurred eyesight and visual discomfort, it makes sense to see us at the BIG optician now. 0191 2244555


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