According to The Vision Council, Americans who use digital devices report the following symptoms:
• Eye Strain: 32.6 percent
• Dry Eyes: 22.7 percent
• Headaches: 21.4 percent
It is commonplace for many people to look at social media on a smartphone or tablet computer while binge watching a television show on a laptop. We have so many screens in our life, but our eyes weren’t designed to stare at a screen 8 to 12 hours a day.
While the 20-20-20 Rule is good to follow, there are other ways to reduce digital eye strain. Proper ergonomics can help. The computer screen should be positioned at a 15 to 20-degree angle below eye level and 16 to 30 inches from the eyes to the monitor. The desk where the computer sits should be 29 inches high. Reference materials, such as handwritten notes, should located above the keyboard on document holder. There should be enough lighting to work comfortably, but not so much that there is glare reflecting off the screen. Arms should be at a 90-degree angle and wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard. It also helps to increase the text size on the screen.
Thankfully there are products that can help lessen digital eye strain, in particular the strain related to blue light. Blue light has the shortest wavelength on the visible light spectrum and it uses a lot of energy. Viewing this light can be exhausting for eyes. In addition, blue light disrupts melatonin production and sleep patterns. It can also damage the retina and may lead to age-related macular degeneration. One company, Gunnar, makes lenses that filter out the harmful blue light on the visible light spectrum. This company makes lenses that range from those that filter out 90 percent of blue light to those that filter out 10 percent of blue light. The reason for the different strengths has to do with who the end users are. Graphic designers and film/video editors need to see a wide range of colors for their work. So, they need a strength that protects their eyes but allows for them to work close to true color. For those who do office work at a computer, such as word processing or spreadsheet work, they can use a greater strength that filters out more of the blue light.
What if someone wears contacts? That person is covered as well. Cooper Vision developed contact lenses that were specifically designed for digital device use. What makes these contact lenses different from other contacts are two things. One, the lenses have optical enhancements that allow the user to go back and forth between viewing their digital device and everyday objects with a minimum of eye strain. Second, the lenses lock in moisture so that the eye doesn’t feel dry and uncomfortable.
Digital devices are here to stay. That doesn’t mean that a person has to suffer with eye strain. As technology evolves, so does the need to develop ways to alleviate the discomfort that comes with digital device use.