Protecting your eyes from digital eye strain

What is digital eye strain?
Also known as computer vision syndrome, digital eye strain happens when you stare at a computer, smartphone or tablet screen for long periods without taking breaks. People who use these devices for more than two hours in a row are most at risk for this condition. Some of the symptoms are headaches, blurry vision and sore, dry or red eyes.


What you can do to protect your eyes
There’s no evidence that computer vision syndrome can permanently affect your vision, but it can make you very uncomfortable. Here’s what you can do to avoid digital eye strain:

Position your screen properly: Make sure your screen is at least an arms distance away from you and 15 to 20 degrees lower than your eye level. Keeping a proper viewing distance means less strain on your eyes, and a lower screen keeps a larger part of your eye covered by your eyelid, which helps it stay moisturized.

Adjust the lighting: your screen shouldn’t be much brighter than the room you’re working in. Many newer devices automatically adjust the brightness for you.

Put your reference material in the right place: if you need to look at paperwork while you’re working, keep it above your keyboard but below your screen to avoid forcing your eyes to refocus too often.

Remember to blink: on average, people blink about 12 times a minute, but while you’re using a computer, it gets reduced to about 5 times a minute. This can make your eyes dry and irritated.

Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes time to rest.

Ask about specialized lenses: there may be coatings or tints that can reduce glare and eye strain when using computers.


To find out more about protecting your eyes from digital eye strain, ask your optometrist during your next eye exam. Eye Health Centres has offices in the Shawnee and Kensington areas of Calgary as well as another office in Regina. Call us at the location closest to you, or book an appointment online.