Is digital eye strain an actual thing and does it impact your health?

It seems as if screens have become a perpetual part of our existence. Computers, phones, tablets, television are all vital to our everyday life. In this digital age, everything from shopping to jobs to studying to even currency has shifted on to this virtual world, an important part of which are screens.

While the convenience and the ease these digital gadgets have brought into our lives cannot be discounted.  However, it is vital to pay heed to the effect of these digital utilities, holistically.

What is digital eye strain?

One of the most profound impacts of the use of screens on human health is the eye strain they cause. Digital eye strain is not one particular disease but the hoard of problems that accompany the excessive use of screens. The symptoms associated with digital eye strain include headaches, blurring of the vision, strain or pressure of sorts on the eyes, sensitivity towards light.

Posture also suffers as many people are not mindful of the hunched shoulders. This then also leads to muscular pain and fatigue in the shoulder and neck. If you have these symptoms, do use screens excessively, then it best to consult an eye specialist in Islamabad to avoid further issues.

Why do these symptoms appear?

Looking at the screen is different from reading from the paper or gazing elsewhere for that matter. Continuously looking at the screen puts strain on the eye muscles. The fonts, the color and contrast vary all the time, which puts more pressure on the eyes and may lead to viewing difficulties.

Moreover, as screens emit light, if it’s less or brighter than our surrounding light, that too, strains the eyes. The glare from the screen, the flickering motion and the small text sizes, all lead to digital eye strain.

Many of us do multiple tasks when using screens, like making notes when reading on the tablet, and so the eyes have to continuously shift focus. This fatigues the muscles that then get overworked as a result.

When we look at the screens, we are less likely to blink our eyes. The action of blinking is important to bring on the tears that moisten the eyes. Hence, with screens, dry eyes are a common phenomenon and are not at all healthy.

Not everyone works with screens with ramrod straight back and ideal distance. Screens get used in bed, on desk, on the laps and hence there are times when we unconsciously use screens at a bad angle or distance, endangering the health of our eyes in this process. Also, the use of devices at odd angles can result in the muscles of the back and the neck to spasm.

The danger of digital eye strain runs more severe in people who have vision issues. Being far sighted or near sighted, both can lead to problems and aggravate DES. Some people who already wear correction glasses might not be able to use screens from at a particular distance and may compromise their muscles in the endeavor for better viewing.

What is the impact of digital eye strain on health?

The symptoms of digital eye strain are not very pleasant to live with. Fatigued muscles of the neck and back make it very difficult to be comfortable. Headaches are also very painful and are a big nuisance.

It also may lead to photosensitivity and might also cause vision issues. While the impact is not life threatening or very dangerous per se, however, the quality of life surely gets compromised. It makes it difficult to stay productive and carry out routine tasks, as the pain and discomfort resulting from its various symptoms are rather disruptive.

How can digital eye strain be treated?

Anyone who uses more than two hours of screen continuously is at risk of suffering from DES. Therefore, if possible, try decreasing the screen time. Moreover, when viewing the screens, make sure that the brightness is perfectly aligned with the surrounding light intensity.

Also, position your screens in such a way that it does not catch glare from lights around you. There are anti-glare filters available as well that can be utilized for this task. Furthermore, increase the font size on the devices so there is absolutely no strain on the eyes. If the screen is flickering or acting up, have it fixed before using it; your muscles are more important than your task.

Placement of the screen is also very important. Try placing it slightly below the eye level so that you have to look down a little to view it. Maintain a distance of at least 20 inches from the screen. Sit on a comfortable chair to ensure that the muscles in your back do not suffer.

It is also important to not continuously use the screen, but rather take breaks in between; take out 10-15 minutes after every couple of hours of screen use. Also, whilst using the screen, gaze at a distance after every 20 minutes to exercise your eyes.

For the prevention of dry eyes, it is rather important to be mindful of blinking your eyes. Put up a post-it note as a reminder to blink if you are likely to forget, but you have to break out of the habit of not blinking. Those wearing contact lenses should also take a break here and there from them, and instead wear glasses for screen use.

In this day and age, using screens is incorrigible. However, in the light of the strain that these cause to the eyes, conscious effort has to be made for keeping the eyes healthy. These steps can help you reduce the damage from the digital eye strain.

However, if things are getting bad, it is best to schedule an appointment with the top eye specialist in Lahore to avoid any serious damage to the eyes.



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