Dry, sensitive eyes could be from scrolling on social media for a lazy weekend morning/afternoon/evening or from staring at your 15th Zoom call of the workday. Digital eye strain, also called Computer Vision Syndrome or “CVS,” is a condition that affects nearly 60 million people globally, and those are just the reported cases.
Most everyone experiences some level of digital eye strain or discomfort from time to time, but for those of us locked behind a computer screen for work or hanging out on your Animal Crossing island, this type of vision problem can really limit our screen time.
Have no fear; your Stoggles team is here. We’re all very well aware that our computer use is likely not decreasing in the near future. As such, it’s essential to understand what causes the symptoms of digital eye strain and learn how to protect our eyes.
Get ready to nerd out as we talk about how the eye operates, what causes digital eye strain, and what you can do to fight back.
Your Eyes… at a Glance
Your eyes are exposed organs. The very nature of their function means they basically have to be. There’s very little protection between your eyes and the outside world. You’ve got your paper-thin eyelids, eyelashes, and the thick coating that lays over your eyes called the sclera.
The part of your eyes responsible for vision is actually located in the back of the eyeball, which is good because it’s afforded at least a little more protection there.
Vision happens like this:
- The cornea collects light. The pupil and iris work like a camera shutter and filter how much light enters the eye.
- The lens, located behind the pupil and iris, focuses the light and sends it to the retina.
- The retina changes the light (through a lot more science than we need to cover for our purposes) into electrical signals).
- The electrical signals are then sent via the optic nerve to the brain. Our brains then tell us what we see.
The cells in the retina are specialized, limited, and non-regenerable. This means when they are damaged or destroyed, we lose a portion of our vision for good.
The macula is also located in the retina. This structure is responsible for fine, detailed vision.
The Role of Tears
In addition to helping you express your deepest emotions (often whether you like it or not), tears play a major role in protecting your eyes and in keeping your vision clear. Tears actually help your pupil and iris focus light to help you see more clearly.
Your eyes constantly produce tears to keep the conjunctiva (the thin covering over the sclera) hydrated. This hydration ensures that particles of dust, debris, and other unwanted irritants quickly get the boot when they enter your eyes.
They also help your eyes move freely and easily back and forth in your sockets. Tears are distributed evenly across your eyes by blinking.
What Is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain happens for two reasons:
- The way our eyes behave when staring at an illuminated screen.
- The effect of blue light on our eyes.
Before any bookworms mark themselves safe from this condition, you should know that the way the eyes behave while focused on a screen is similar to the way they behave when you’re reading a book. This is why you might feel like your eyes are tired or dry after reading a good old-fashioned paperback.
What Causes Digital Eye Strain
For the eyes to stay properly lubricated, you need to blink. It’s normal for blinking to occur about 15-20 times per minute, but not so when you’re focused on a computer screen (or, yes, even a book).
Focusing on these screens and pages causes us to blink almost half as frequently as we normally do, and that means our eyes aren’t staying as hydrated.
The second problem has to do with the type of light emitted from computer screens, tablets, televisions, and smartphones.
You’ve probably got a few friends sporting blue light blocking glasses at the office or know at least a little about this type of light. Blue light, like UV light, is emitted from the sun. It’s on the visible light spectrum and is made up of short, high-energy waves.
Unlike ultraviolet light, our exposure to blue light is compounded by the fact that it doesn’t just come from the sun. Blue light is emitted by:
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Tablets, smartphones, and of course, computers
So much of our lives are now heavily entrenched in digital devices, so it makes sense that our exposure to blue light is more significant. The truth is, however, that blue light research is just getting up and running.
Here’s what we know: Blue light can be one of the contributing factors to eye strain, headaches, tension in the head and neck, blurred vision, and dry and/or watery eyes.
Here’s what we don’t know: How much blue light is damaging the other structures in our eyes?
Blue light, like ultraviolet light, has the ability to pass directly through to the retina. This means it could potentially damage the retinal cells and the macula, but more research is needed to determine whether that’s possible.
The takeaway: Don’t chance it. Just like your college roommate told you that investing $10 in Apple would be a good idea, protecting your eyes from blue light is solid advice.
Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
You don’t need an eye doctor to diagnose you with CVS. You can pretty much figure out the symptoms on your own. If, after hours of staring at digital screens, you experience the following, you’re probably suffering from common symptoms of digital eye strain.
- Dry eyes. We’re talking eyes so dry you’re going through eye drops like they’re bottomless popcorn at the movie theater. Artificial tears are good in a pinch, but relying on them full time isn’t good for your eye health.
- Itchy eyes. Irritated, itchy eyes can also be a symptom of digital eye strain. Since your eyes are less lubricated, it’s more likely that dust and debris can collect in them, causing them to itch and increasing eye discomfort.
- Blurry vision. You haven’t even had your happy hour libation, and you’re already seeing double. Blurry vision, or feeling like there is a film over your eyes, is another symptom of digital eye strain.
- Watery eyes. Sometimes, the fact that the eyes get so after long periods of computer work causes them to produce tears on a double duty basis. This can lead to watery eyes that make it look like you’re crying, even when you aren’t.
- Headaches and neck strain. Computer eye strain, when left uncorrected, can lead to even more problems, like headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and general feelings of fatigue.
Sound familiar? We get it. But we promise neither eye fatigue nor eye problems have to be a part of your daily screen use. Not all heroes wear capes, but we’re putting ours on to show you # ways to prevent digital eye strain.
7 Ways To Prevent Digital Eye Strain
Don’t worry; there’s no need to put in your two-week notice or even cancel your Xbox subscription.
Here’s how to prevent digital eye strain and keep your eyes (and your head) in the screen game:
1. Keep the Problem at Arm’s Length
Your screen should be about an arm’s length away from you and just about ten inches below eye level. This, experts say, is the best position for ergonomic comfort. This will also ensure that your head and neck aren’t craned awkwardly to see your screen.
2. Take Breaks
The American Optometric Association recommends taking breaks from your screen to encourage proper eye lubrication, especially if you’re on your computer for extended periods of time. This means resting for 15 minutes every two hours and looking away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
3. Use an Anti-Glare Screen
Also known as privacy screens, anti-glare computer screens can cut down on the amount of harsh light that is emitted from your computer screen. Some screens even offer blue light protection.
The problem with these screens is that some people find them difficult to use. They can make your screen look dark, which can be even more difficult if you have uncorrected vision problems.
4. Grab a Humidifier
One way to beat the system is to keep a humidifier in the room where you are working. This may help keep water vapor in the air, preventing your eyes from drying out and helping you avoid dry eyes.
5. Level Up Your Lighting
The lighting in your room should be brighter than the lighting on your screen. That means your overhead lighting or your windows should fill the room with bright light so that your computer screen doesn’t appear to glare or glow.
6. Get an Eye Exam
If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, or if you’ve never darkened the door of an ophthalmologist’s office, now’s the time. If you need contact lenses or eyeglasses to correct a vision issue, getting them could significantly reduce the amount of digital eye strain you experience.
7. Wear Computer Glasses
Also known as blue light blocking glasses, computer glasses are specialized glasses that filter out harmful blue light and help reduce glare. These glasses can dramatically reduce the computer eye strain symptoms you experience and can help your eyes focus without fatigue.
Say Hello to Stoggles
At Stoggles, we understand that eyes need protection from harmful light just as much as they do from other dangers, like flying debris. That’s why every pair of our glasses is infused with blue light-blocking technology. We literally inject it into the lenses at the time of manufacturing to ensure that your eyes are protected while you’re wearing our specs.
But because everybody loves extras, that’s not the only cool feature you’ll find with Stoggles:
Why offer blue light protection if you aren’t going to offer UV protection? When you wear Stoggles, your eyes will be shielded from all the harmful light rays from both the sun and the screen. All Stoggles are crafted from 100% polycarbonate material, which is naturally blue-light blocking and effortlessly comfortable and easy to wear.
Rogue game controller flying through the air? No worries. Drop your phone on your face while scrolling through social media? No stress; it happens. If you’re wearing Stoggles, your eyes are securely protected.
Our glasses all have the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification for impact and shatter resistance. This means no matter what comes at your face, your eyes will be protected.
Side and Top Shields
Regular glasses can leave your eyes vulnerable at the eyebrow and on the temples. Stoggles fixed that little problem by seamlessly adding low-profile side and top shields to our eyewear.
Your eyes stay safe, and unlike wraparound glasses, which can warp your vision, you’ll never have to worry about the “funhouse effect,” which is an especially big plus for those of us who rely on prescription glasses.
When you’re under a tight deadline, you might find yourself in the office after hours. If the AC turns off for the day, it could get steamy. Thankfully, you’ve got the protection of anti-fog lenses from Stoggles.
Our glasses are treated with an all-encompassing dip anti-fog treatment (instead of traditional uneven spray coatings) that changes the way water vapor collects on the lens, so you never have to remove your glasses to wipe them down.
Plus, they’re comfortable. Consider this: If you constantly take off (or don’t wear) your anti-fog glasses, they’re not doing you much good. However, if your glasses are comfy, they stay right on your nose where they belong. Heck, you might even wear them in the shower by accident.
Wear Stoggles Today, Keep Digital Eye Strain Away
You have options when it comes to eye care, and Stoggles understands. That’s why we not only make our glasses incredibly protective, we make them stylish, too. We don’t think you should have to pick between form and function, and with Stoggles, you never have to.
For protection that keeps your eyes safe from computer eye strain and helps protect your sweet sense of style, there’s only one solution. Stoggles are the eyewear that’s so stylish and comfortable it’s a spectacle.
Computer vision syndrome among computer office workers in a developing country: an evaluation of prevalence and risk factors - PMC
How Tears Work | National Eye Institute
Computer Vision Syndrome - Symptoms and Causes | Penn Medicine