man looking at a blurry screen.

If you work in front of a computer all day, or spend a lot of time watching television and playing video games, you might have noticed your eyesight getting a bit blurry. This is due to a condition known as Digital Eye Strain (DES), a group of eye and vision-related issues that are the result of too much screen time. The good news is DES is not permanent and there are many things you can do to help prevent it.

What causes the blurriness?

According to the Pew Research Center1, 81% of adults in the US. use the internet daily, and the same percentage used video calls to keep in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human beings were not designed to sit in one place staring at a screen. Computers put excess strain on the visual system. The lack of definition of the letters on the screen, the reduced level of contrast, and the reflections on the glass all make viewing more difficult. Poor posture, bad lighting, viewing distance, and screen resolution also worsen symptoms.

How do I know if I have Digital Eye Strain?

There are many related symptoms to look for if you suspect you have Digital Eye Strain:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Headache
  • Blurred near and distance vision
  • Dry or Irritated eyes
  • Neck and/or Backaches
  • Diplopia (Double Vision)

An eye doctor can establish a diagnosis with a series of tests with an emphasis on computer view distance requirements. He or she will also be able to determine if you have a minor uncorrected vision problem which can become more pronounced when looking at a computer screen and can put you at even greater risk of Digital Eye Strain.

What can I do about Digital Eye Strain?

There’s always avoiding computers and TV screens completely, but that’s pretty unrealistic in today’s world.

So, here’s a few computer use habits to adopt that can really help alleviate symptoms:

  • Put the screen 20-28 inches away, 4-5 in below eye level.
  • Sit straight up with your feet touching the floor.
  • Rest your eyes for 15 minutes every 2 hours.
  • The 20-20-20 rule: look at an object 20 ft away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Of course, if you try these tips and are still having issues, make an appointment with an eye doctor to make sure nothing more serious is going on. You can find an eye doctor with our tool.

Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.

1. Pew Research Center September 1, 2021 – The Internet and the Pandemic.

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