Understanding the Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain
Take Steps to Protect Your Eyes
We all have experienced eye strain. You know that feeling when you’ve been focusing your eyes on something so intently, whether it’s the road ahead of you on a long drive or the pages of a book while studying for an exam, that your eyes feel heavy and tired. In the last decade, with the rise in the use of smartphones and tablets, a new category of eye strain has emerged—digital eye strain (DES), also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS).
According to mobile analytics firm App Annie, the average time spent on mobile devices in the top 10 markets in the United States was 4.8 hours a day in 2021, an increase of 30 percent since 2019. In total, among all consumers, there were 3.8 trillion hours spent on mobile phones in 2021. That’s a lot of screen time—and likely a lot of eye strain.
The Symptoms of Eye Strain
While symptoms may vary, these are among the most common:
- Blurry vision
- Red or dry, irritated eyes
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
Tips to Reduce Eye Strain
- Avoid bright light. Whether you’re sitting in the bright sun or under fluorescent lights, the glare the light causes on your screen can be hard on your eyes. Sometimes the solution is simple. For example, if you’re straining to look at your laptop or phone screen at the beach this summer, consider moving to a shadier spot.
- Think about your posture. Are you slouching on the couch while plugging away at work on your laptop, or are you sitting upright in a chair? If you’re going to be spending long hours in front of a computer screen, make sure you sit in an office chair that promotes good posture and naturally positions you in alignment with the screen.
- Blink. When you’re staring at a screen, you may forget to blink—and that means your eyes are more likely to become dry and irritated. Remember to blink and lubricate your eyes.
- Talk to your eye doctor. If you’re consistently experiencing the symptoms of eye strain, it may be time to share your concerns with your doctor. There may be an underlying eye condition or vision issue that is contributing to your eye strain.
- Take a break. We know it can be hard to put down the phone. But when it isn’t absolutely essential to be on your device, shut the laptop screen or set your phone aside. Give your eyes a break from the screen and reduce your risk of eye strain.