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Stop eye strain before it starts

Alleviate the potential for digital eye strain by limiting screen time and taking breaks.

It’s that time of the year when many areas of the country are under the cold cloak of winter. Unforgiving temperatures can translate into an increase in hours spent indoors, whether at work or at home, and more time relying on devices to pass the hours.

Spending more time watching television, playing video games, texting friends, or browsing the internet can lead to a condition known as “computer vision eye strain.” Eye strain also may be caused through intense eye use, such as while driving long distances or engaging in activities that require close attention, such as crafting or reading.

The American Optometric Association says digital eye strain can result in various forms of discomfort, which increase with the amount of screen use. The most common symptoms include:

  • headaches;
  • blurred vision;
  • dry, watery or burning eyes;
  • increased sensitivity to light; and
  • neck and shoulder pain.

The AOA says viewing a computer or digital screen often makes the eyes have to work harder. The AOA notes this is different from reading a printed page. The letters are not as precise or sharply defined, and areas of contrast can be muted. Also, the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult. Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic says people tend to blink less while using digital devices, and view them at less than ideal distances or angles.

Alleviating eye strain from digital sources involves making changes in daily habits or the environment. Taking regular eye breaks, and looking at objects from different distances can help them focus. These tips may help as well.

  • Adjust the lighting to reduce glare on screens or your task.
  • Limit screen time as much as possible and engage in other activities.
  • Consider the use of artificial tears products to lubricate dry eyes.
  • Choose the right eyewear, and work with an eye professional to find products that can assist you. Specialized glasses or contact lenses are designed for computer work. Investigate tintings and coatings that also may help.
  • Blink often to refresh the eyes.
  • Talk to a doctor if eye strain persists or changes in severity.

When the weather gets cold, people may rely on digital devices for recreation more than they otherwise would. Avoiding eye strain in such situations can help people avoid discomfort.

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