Avoiding Digital Eye Strain

Techniques to prevent and lessen symptoms.

By Karen Smith on November 18, 2013

We live in a world where more than 80 percent of Americans have a mobile device within arm’s reach most of the time. Mobile devices are an extension of the desktop and laptop computer.  While these screens are smaller, an individual’s properly functioning vision system should be able to keep up. However, as we ask more of our eyes, digital eye strain can be experienced.

Minneapolis-based optometrists Dr. Michael Hanen-Smith and Dr. Josh Hanen-Smith recommend knowing the signs of digital eye strain, receiving a comprehensive eye exam to identify the issues and taking measures to prevent symptoms altogether.

The doctors noted that some of the symptoms that should point you to your local eye clinic for an exam include: red eyes and irritation; strain or pulling sensation in or around the eyes; neck strain; and blurry vision, especially when moving from looking at device to looking at other objects in the room or at a distance.

One of the more common situations as you push your eyes to do more in a day is binocular interactive issues. This is when one eye competes against the other. The result is being uncomfortable after reading for short periods of time, blurry vision, eye strain and potentially headaches. According to Dr. Mike, this occurs in one in three people under 50 and is more common over the age of 50. 

To lessen symptoms of digital eye strain or prevent them from the get-go, Dr. Mike and Dr. Josh suggest these three simple tactics.

First, adjust your device’s font size and degree of contrast to find out what works for you and your vision. Then, adjust the angle of your device for best focus. (This may be difficult if you wear certain types of eyeglass lenses such as progressives. If this is the case, consider a separate pair of glasses that is best for the range of your mobile devices.) Finally, follow the 20-20-20 rule, where every 20 minutes you focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

There is no universal right fit when it comes to preventing digital eye strain. Find what works for you so you can stay connected without discomfort.