Do You Suffer From Computer Fatigue?
Technology can be a beautiful thing, but it might also be ruining your eyes. Laptops, computers, tablets, e-readers, and smartphones have given rise to what is termed “computer vision fatigue”. Computer fatigue, also known as digital eye strain, is a repetitive movement injury that occurs with overexposure to digital screens, where the eye repeatedly follows the same patterns.
What Is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain happens when the eye is forced to focus and re-focus when looking at a digital screen. Common symptoms of digital eye strain include tension in the neck and shoulders, blurred vision, headaches, and red/dry eyes. If you do a lot of reading on a computer screen, or switch from hard copies to a screen, the eye muscles are constantly working to adapt to such changes. Consequently, eye muscles deteriorate and lose their elasticity with age.
It only takes two hours of digital screen time for digital eye strain to set in. 80 percent of Australians report that they use some sort of digital device for more than two hours a day. Additionally, over 50 percent report that they use more than one digital device at a time, making digital eye strain a very real threat to eye health.
Solutions for Digital Eye Strain
There are several things you can do to alleviate or prevent digital eye strain. If you wear glasses, be sure to keep your prescription up to date. Proper lighting is also essential in the prevention of digital eye strain. Make sure any lighting in the room is no brighter than the screen you’re viewing.
It is also recommended that you utilise blue screen settings on your phone or tablet, which not only reduce digital eye strain, but help prevent sleep issues associated with too much screen time. Another option is an anti-glare screen.
Good posture is also important. Try to remain sitting upright, and avoid rounding the shoulders and leaning in by positioning your mouse closer to you. Having a chair with proper back support also ensures you maintain a decent viewing distance from your screen, without any sort of discomfort.
If you wear contact lenses, progressive lenses or bifocals, ask us about computer glasses. Computer glasses are specific glasses that consider the distance you sit from the computer and place the optical centre of the lenses perfectly in line with your pupils. They also feature magnifying power at a slightly lower percentage than reading glasses, which helps to reduce strain. Importantly, where possible, take frequent breaks.
What Is Blue Light?
In the past few years, most digital displays have upgraded to use Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. Why? It’s brighter, more vibrant and most importantly, much cheaper to run. LED light is made up of significantly more light from the blue end of the spectrum, compared to the light emitted from older screen technology. This blue light is what is now presenting a hazard to our eyes – especially our children’s.
Blue Light Disrupts Our Body Clock, Sleep and Impairs Memory
Lack of good sleep impairs memory, and can make it harder to learn and retain information. Blue light from screens disrupts melatonin production and, therefore, negatively affects deep restorative sleep. People whose melatonin levels are suppressed, and whose body clocks are thrown off by light exposure, are more prone to concentration and fatigue difficulties. Blue light from your computer and phone disrupts melatonin production, which negatively affects deep restorative sleep.
Eyes were not designed to stare at close distances for long periods of time. Therefore, continuous close-distance focusing on digital devices adds stress to eye muscles and can exhaust them in about 2 hours.
Do Computers Cause Dry Eyes?
Dry eye is a common and often debilitating condition that affects more people than ever before. It has many causes, however, one that many will be familiar with is prolonged computer or screen use – especially in dry, air-conditioned environments. Staring at a screen causes our blink rate to fall significantly. When we are not blinking regularly, the meibomian glands (oil glands) in our eyelids don’t do their job properly. This results in a poorer quality tear layer and a dry eye.
How Can I Protect My Child's Eyes From The Dangers Of LED Light Emissions?
It is not necessary to ban screen use entirely. Today, most children use digital devices at school as well as at home. For older kids, significant social interaction occurs via social media. Evidence suggests that it is wise to cap screen exposure to a maximum number of hours per day. Get the board games out! In addition to reducing exposure to digital screens, glasses can be tinted with a blue light blocking filter to protect delicate eyes. These filters can be applied to both prescription and non-prescription glasses.