Vision in the Digital Age
The modern world grows more digitized every day, and our reliance on digital screens can impact our vision. While there are many benefits to incorporating technology into our lives, how we use it can make a difference in our eye comfort and health.
Digital eye strain is a common problem for all ages. Managing how you use digital screens can benefit your eyes so you can get back to enjoying the benefits of technology.
Visit Eye Q Optometry to discuss your visual comfort so we can develop a personalized solution.Book Appointment
What Causes Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome, is caused by prolonged screen time. When you use a computer, tablet, phone, TV, or digital screen for hours, your eyes remain in the same focusing position the entire time.
Imagine holding a full coffee cup for 2 hours in the same position. It’s not a heavy burden at first, but after a while, your arm may ache, or you may feel the urge to stretch your fingers. Your eye muscles can tire out the same way: digital eye strain is essentially a range of symptoms that occurs when your eyes get tired from maintaining the same action.
Digital screens also affect your visual comfort in other ways. Screen glare requires us to focus harder to see or read information, and our eyes have to follow rapid movement when scrolling pages or switching tabs. When your eyes experience a full workout with few rest breaks every day, digital eye strain can lead to worsening symptoms.
Digital eye strain affects both children and adults, but symptoms often vary between them. Common symptoms experienced by all ages can include:
- Fatigued or tired eyes
- Eye strain or headaches
- Neck, back, or shoulder pain
Children may demonstrate eye strain through poor behaviour and reduced attention spans.
Many patients also experience dry eye syndrome as a complication of digital eye strain. We normally blink 12 times a minute but only 5 times a minute when viewing digital screens. Blinking spreads a layer of nourishing tears (called the tear film) across the eye’s surface, so blinking less often means our eyes receive less consistent moisture.
Prevention & Management
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing—like eating an entire chocolate cake by yourself in one sitting. Controlling your screen time can help prevent digital eye strain. Adults can be responsible for their limits, like setting a timer or watching the clock, but children often need guidance or rules set by the adults in their lives.
The Alberta Association of Optometry recommends:
- Children under 2 have no screen time (with an exception for video-chatting)
- Children 2–5 have 1 hour a day (with adult monitoring)
- Children 5–18 should have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time
Screen time is now an integral part of classroom learning and homework. Parents may need to make rules based on their child’s needs for school or work-related screen time. Encourage them to take screen breaks to help protect their eyes.
Adults should similarly limit screen time outside work to no more than 2 hours. Of course, there are exceptions, like watching a favourite movie with an over-2-hour runtime.
People of all ages can manage digital eye strain symptoms by:
- Using artificial tears: Relieve minor dry eye symptoms and improve your eye comfort with artificial tears or eye drops. For severe and persistent symptoms, you may benefit from dry eye therapy.
- Eliminating screen glare: Reduce overhead lighting, angle your screen away from light sources, or add a screen filter.
- Increasing screen distance: Computer monitors should be at least an arm’s length away. If you have difficulty seeing your screen from farther away, increase the text size or visit your optometrist for a prescription assessment.
- Taking frequent screen breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule to reset and relax your eyes (take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away).
Healthier Screen Time
Preventing digital eye strain can go a long way to restoring eye comfort. But you may need support to relieve long-term symptoms or advice on managing digital eye strain when your job requires more computer hours.
We can work with you to find solutions tailored to your lifestyle. Book an appointment at Eye Q Optometry to discuss healthier screen time.
Visit Us Today
Our practice is located in the Killarney area of 17th Avenue, within walking distance of the Westbrook LRT station. There’s plenty of parking available nearby.
- 3314 17 Ave SW
- Calgary, AB T3E 0B4
- Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Sunday: Closed