In the 80s, Madonna would sing about being a “material girl living in a material world” but today, she’d be more likely to be a “digital girl living in a digital world.” We are constantly surrounded by electronic devices and their ever-glowing screens. Millions of Americans wake up to work at a computer screen all day, take break periods to text, chat, and update their social media site on their smartphones, go home to relax on their big screen TV, and then read a few chapters of a book from their tablet device in bed before falling asleep.
Do you know how much strain you’re putting on your eyes? A survey conducted by The Vision Council found that nearly 70% of U.S. adults experience some form of digital eye strain while using electronic devices. This kind of eye strain can cause severe pain and can eventually lead to a permanent loss of eyesight. Here’s how you can make your peepers keepers.
How Do I Know if My Eyes Are Strained?
When your eyes are strained, they typically feel irritated and dry while looking red due to reduced blinking rates. Your vision can start to blur due to glaring from bad lighting or outdated equipment.
Your eyes aren’t the only things that can feel the strain. Back and neck pain can occur from poor body posture and positioning. Painful pressure can build on neck muscles if the neck is constantly moving up and down. Strong headaches and general fatigue can occur when straining to see small fonts and images on a screen.
Wax On, Wax Off
A simple and easy way to cut down on eye strain is to make sure all of your electronic devices are clean and properly wiped. It’s important to have your devices free of dirt and fingerprint smudges to reduce glare and strain on your eyes while trying to see what’s on the screen. Use a proper screen cleaning cloth or an electronics-friendly cleaner to have an eye friendly screen.
Go the Distance
It’s always important to be aware of how close electronic screens are to your eyes. There should always be sufficient space between your eyes and the screen. Computer monitors should be about the same distance as your extended arm with your palm up.
It’s All About Location, Location, Location
Adjust computer screens and portable devices to where they are directly in front of your face, straight, and slightly below eye level. If you notice that reading documents causes you to squint or puts strain on your eyes, use your computer’s settings to increase the text size so it feels comfortable to your eyes.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take breaks. Remind yourself to blink more often to reduce dryness and refocus your eyes. There is also the 20-20-20 break – every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away. You’d be surprised how many times people forget to blink and rest their eyes when viewing an electronic screen because they are so integral to daily life.
Digital screens are everywhere. It’s important that you maintain healthy practices to prevent strain and damage to your eyesight that could become permanent. If you notice any symptoms of strain that constantly persist, contact your physician or optometrist. Screens and portable devices are here to stay. It’s up to you to keep your eyes safe from over exposure.