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Digital eye strain is a real thing

Almost everybody who works in an office does their job in front of a computer monitor. When we’re not on the company-issued laptop or PC, we’re on our personal smartphones or tablets. When we go home, we watch TV. Everywhere we go and in everything we do, there’s a screen for us to interface with.

The Vision Council says that more than nine in 10 American adults “spend more than two hours each day using a digital device.” Six in 10 clock in five hours or more. We’re guessing that the statistics are pretty much the same here at home. The eye health and care organization warns that “all that time can take a toll on the eyes and lead to digital eye strain.”

Digital Eye Strain infographic from
The Vision Council

In its Digital Eye Strain Report 2015, the council defines the condition as a “physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen and is associated with the close to mid-range distance of digital screens, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones.” Symptoms include red, dry or irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back and neck pain, and headaches.

This is said to be caused by the reduction in blinking rate, which dries up the eyes and makes them itchy or feel like they’re burning. “On average, a person going through his or her daily routine blinks about 18 times per minute. However, spending significant amounts of time staring at a screen causes blink rates to reduce,” The Vision Council explains. When reading on a digital screen, our eyes strain in order to focus because of pixelation, small print and exposure to high-energy visible light.

“Adults with computer-oriented jobs feel the strain most acutely. A 2014 study found that office workers who spend significant time in front of computer screens and experience eye strain undergo changes in tear fluid similar to people with dry eye disease, creating a physiological change,” it adds.

Dr. Edward Kondrot, writing for CNN last February, offered a few suggestions to avoid digital eye strain, such as conscious blinking. He also recommends taking “frequent 15-minute breaks and [focusing] your eyes on a distant object across the room” to “give the focusing muscle a chance to relax.”

For more digital eye strain prevention tips, go to www.cnn.com/2014/02/03/health/digital-eyestrain/.

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