’Tis the season for cramming! For professionals, December can require some extra effort and time as we work hard to finish end-of-year deadlines. For students, life is packed with studying for final exams and writing final papers right up until the holidays. And for both activities, that means long hours and lots of stress – likely in front of a computer.
With the average job and class requiring more time on a computer than ever before, our eyes already have to work hard to keep up with us. That’s why research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen develop symptoms and reactions to doing so, including headaches; neck or back pain; eye irritation or dryness; and blurred or double vision.
That means whether you’re cramming in extra work or extra learning, you run the risk of putting even more strain on your eyes this month – especially if you’re in front of a screen.
What’s the Big Deal with Screens?
Using computers, tablets, phones, and other various devices with screens is particularly stressful on our eyes. The extended use of digital devices is one of the most common causes of “eyestrain” – a common condition where our eyes grow tired after extensive and intense use. While driving and reading can also potentially cause eyestrain, digital devices are the most common cause. It’s so common that the American Optometric Association calls this specific type of eyestrain by its own name. Well, by two names: “computer vision syndrome” or “digital eyestrain”.
While eyestrain itself isn’t serious, it is very annoying. When eyestrain strikes, your eyes can feel tired, itchy, or sore. They can dry out. They can work so hard that you develop a headache. They can become more sensitive to light. And ultimately, you can lose the ability to focus and keep your eyes open. Not ideal for anyone trying to finish a big work project or term paper!
What Can I Do About It?
The good news is that by identifying likely causes of eyestrain in your life, you can work on addressing the problem. For example, failing to adhere to the 20-20-20 rule is a major contributor to eyestrain. It’s one of the best ways you can prevent eyestrain. The rule calls for you to shift your focus to something other than your screen every 20 minutes. What you focus on should be 20 feet away, and you should look at it for at least 20 seconds. Hence the name 20-20-20!
Working or studying in an area that is properly lit is also key. Poor lighting creates more work for your eyes, which have to adjust to work within the overly dim or bright environment. Ideally, a light source will be slightly behind you, and shining down on the area you’re working in. If this isn’t an option, use a shaded light positioned in front of you to light up your workstation.
Stress, fatigue, and even poor posture can also contribute to eyestrain. But digital devices are the ultimate contributing factor to eyestrain. A dim or overly bright screen on these devices can force your eyes to work hard to see properly. Using a screen for long periods of time can dry out your eyes, as you’re less likely to blink during prolonged screen use. And exposure to the light given off by these devices can put even more strain on your eyes.
Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier than ever to address the cons of using screens for long periods. Modern glasses have advanced to the point that we can use them to reduce our exposure to blue light. Take the lenses we use at Phonetic Eyewear. They were designed to combat digital eyestrain! By using a proprietary lens coating, our glasses are able to reflect and absorb a portion of the potentially harmful blue light emitted from computers and other backlit devices. Even if you have perfect vision, these types of lenses are available in computer reading glasses – making them available to everyone who works with a computer for any length of time.
Do you think you could benefit from a pair of glasses for computer use specifically? You can learn more about the technology behind Phonetic’s blue light blocking glasses here, as well as visit our online shop here to find your perfect glasses!