How to help ease eye fatigue from the online life

I suffer from dry eyes. Working on my Mac for long periods of time only exacerbates the situation. Many of us spend an enormous amount of time on our digital devices. In fact, The Vision Council reports that nine out of 10 adults spend more than two hours a day using a digital device and that one in 10 people spends a whopping three-fourths of their waking hours doing so. 

All that screen time can cause digital eye strain, which in turn, can lead to a host of other symptoms. Most people think of eye strain as simply discomfort that happens when looking at things up close such as reading books or using the computer. However, Dora Sztipanovits Mathe, assistant professor in Clinical Ophthalmology and Visual Science with the Vanderbilt Eye Institute in Nashville, TN, says that “Less obviously, but not less commonly, you can have symptoms such as headaches, dry eye, double vision and blurred vision — both near or when looking into the distance after prolonged computer use.”

She offers these five tips to help you combat digital eye strain:

  • Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
  • Try artificial tears.Blink rate has been shown to be reduced by about 50% during prolonged computer use. This, in turn, leads to dry eyes and eye fatigue. Artificial tears can help; consider keeping a bottle by your keyboard.
  • Check your glasses. An outdated prescription will contribute to your discomfort. If you’re 40 or older, make sure that your glasses have the appropriate amount of magnification in them for your working distance. This will help with eye strain that may be caused from presbyopia (the inability to focus on items up close).
  • Change your screen’s color and brightness. Digital screens emit a blue light that can disrupt sleep patterns and cause eye strain. You can alter the color and brightness of your devices to give you relief.
  • Take frequent breaks. Get up from your Mac or put the iPhone or iPad down and do something else for a while.