Screen Time and Dry Eyes
Our reliance on technology has grown substantially in recent years, with the pandemic increasing our daily use of computers, tablets, and phones to an average of 13 or more hours per day. Not only have screens helped us stay connected to people we are unable to see in person, but for many, they are also necessary to continue work and education.
As people all over the world have turned to their computers for virtual learning and remote work, the side effects of too much screen time have become widely felt. Spending all day staring at screens can cause computer vision syndrome. This condition may lead to migraines, eyestrain, and the itching, burning, or stinging associated with dry eye.
How does looking at screens cause dry eyes?
Because looking at a screen means focusing on the same spot for a prolonged period, our eyes blink less frequently and less fully. Blinking lubricates the eye with tears and oil that prevent evaporation of the eye’s moisture layer; therefore, less blinking means drier eyes. Dry eyes from screens can affect anybody. For people who already suffer from chronic dry eye, spending all day at a screen can exacerbate symptoms. As we head into another school year—or for some, continued remote work—protect your eyes against dry eye symptoms!
Tips to prevent eye dryness and fatigue
- 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes of screen time, spend 20 seconds focusing on an object at least 20 feet away from you. By focusing on a distant object, this exercise helps combat computer vision syndrome. Taking short breaks every hour to walk and stretch can be good for your body and your eyes.
- Drink water: Dehydration affects every part of the body. Drinking plenty of water may lessen the symptoms of dry eye by helping the body produce enough tears.
- Keep your distance: To prevent eye strain, keep your computer screen an arm’s length in front of you and 4 to 8 inches below eye level. Adjusting the font to a larger size can help you read more easily while keeping your computer at the recommended distance.
- Adjust your lighting: Keep your computer brightness at a lower level than your overhead lighting. Avoid glare by positioning yourself away from lights or windows so that light does not reflect off your screen.
- Eye drops: Artificial tears lubricate the eyes and relieve symptoms of dryness. Be sure to choose preservative-free artificial tears if you plan to use them every day. Your doctor may recommend prescription drops if over-the-counter drops fail to help.
If dry eye symptoms persist, talk to a doctor
If these steps don’t provide adequate relief, underlying chronic dry eye could be to blame. It may be time for you to contact our team and explore your options. While mostly associated with discomfort, dry eye can also be hazardous. Generally, drier eyes are less protected eyes. Plus, for those who plan to undergo eye surgery, dry eye can also impact your results.
At Columbus Laser & Cataract Center, we are experts in dry eye care, committed to helping you achieve comfort using the latest technology. Our LipiView® diagnostic imaging tool helps us assess the severity of your dry eye and determine the best treatment plan. You may benefit from LipiFlow®, a noninvasive treatment that targets the most common cause of dry eye: clogged meibomian (oil) glands.
If you want to learn more about dry eye care or schedule an appointment, call us today at (614) 939-1600. We look forward to helping you!