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The Not-So-Bright Truth About All That Screen Time

By Essilor News

June 17, 2016

Settling in for a weekend of binge-watching the latest Netflix series? Well, if you’re like most Americans (70 percent ), you’ll likely be glued to more than one screen while doing so. You might be joining in the conversation on Twitter, sending out a text to see who else is watching or IMDB-ing that familiar actress. But whether your second screen is a phone or a tablet, watching one or both can be a serious headache… and not just because of the plot twist.

Emerging research shows that more and more Americans are experiencing computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain – physical discomfort like dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and neck or back pain – from staring at various screens for a prolonged period of time. So what can you do to protect your eyes? Try:

  • Blinking more. Staring at a screen causes us to blink less, which can lead to dry eyes. Remind yourself to keep blinking even if you don’t think you need to.
  • Dimming the brightness. You can dim the screen on most smartphones and tablets if your environment is too bright. Try the visor test – look at your screen and cup your hands around your forehead like a baseball hat. If your eyes immediately feel better, tone down the brightness. 
  • Keeping an eye on distance. Ensure your screen is at least arm’s length from your face to relax your posture and reduce eye strain, and avoid holding your screen off to the side. Using the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
  • Limiting screen time. Consider putting your second screen away for a few minutes to give your eyes a rest. Studies have shown that only 53 percent of those using single screens experience eye strain, compared to 75 percent of digital multitaskers. 
  • Consider lenses to protect your eyes. Because the way we look at each digital device is different, you can purchase a pair of glasses with lenses that are enhanced to help you see comfortably regardless of device size and the distances at which you hold them. This will help reduce the impact of eye strain.

If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing digital eye strain symptoms or want to learn more about what you can do to protect your eyes, contact an eye care professional. Then, check out tips for which questions to ask to get the right lenses for you.