No more restless nights, headaches, or tired eyes.
From computer screens to phones and TVs, digital devices are an integral part of our everyday life. In fact, we’re betting you’re reading this from a screen right now. With all this screen time adding up to more than ten hours a day for the average American, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our eyes are feeling the strain. So, what are the effects and what can you do?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain
If you’re hunched over your keyboard and staring (or possibly squinting) at your computer screen for hours on end, you will have experienced some (or all) of the symptoms of CVS. The unique requirements of reading on a screen make your eyes work harder – here’s what to look out for:
- Vision issues – seeing double or experiencing blurred vision
- Eye fatigue – strained, tired or twitching eyes
- Dry or irritated eyes – feeling like your eyelids are made of sandpaper
- Frequent headaches or dizziness – after prolonged screen-time
- Insomnia – finding it difficult to go to sleep or stay asleep
Getting to the root of the issue – what causes CVS?
The halo of light emitted from your screen makes it easier to view, but it’s that glow that causes the issues. The blue light from your screen is high energy light in the visible spectrum. The sun emits blue light too, so while it’s completely fine in small doses, overexposure – or at the wrong time of day – becomes confusing for our bodies.
Sunrise indicates it’s time to launch into the day – the blue light kick-starts our circadian rhythm, promotes a rise in cortisol levels to stimulate our entire system and the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) drives us to fuel our bodies for the day ahead. With our current overexposure to blue light, these traditional cues are blurred. Here’s what you might notice as a result:
- Poor sleep – exposure to any type of light suppresses melatonin (our natural sleep-inducing hormone), but blue light exposure – particularly at night – can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. The flow-on effects of poor-quality sleep are lack of concentration, poor memory function, and negative effects on mood.
- Overstimulation of cortisol and ghrelin hormones – living in a state of perpetual stress and hunger doesn’t feel good and can impact on other functions of your body such as metabolism and blood pressure.
- Eye damage – continued overexposure may prematurely age the eyes and damage the retinal cells.
How to fight CVS
While CVS is a temporary condition (relieved by a reduction in screen time), unfortunately, that’s not always practical in our wired-up world. Here’s what else you can do to reduce the effects of CVS:
- Screen positioning – check that your monitor or tablet is about an arm’s length away. Often, we lean in too close, making the eyes work harder than they need to. Ideally, your screen should sit slightly below eye level, so your gaze is focused downwards.
- Take a break – The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the 20-20-20 rule – take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Gazing into the distance offers your eyes an opportunity to relax.
- Get the lighting right – adjust the lighting in the room so that it compliments your screen. If a screen is much brighter than the surrounding light it means your eyes have to work harder.
- Keep the drops handy – typically you blink a whole lot less when focused on a screen – up to 66% less! Lubricating eye drops will keep your eyes from drying out, particularly in office environments where air conditioning adds to the problem.
- Invest in a pair of computer glasses – a pair of specialized, blue light blocking glasses with lenses that reduce the amount of blue light entering your eyes. This makes it much safer and more comfortable to use digital screens for prolonged periods.
Computer glasses – the hero for minimizing CVS
With more than half of American adults experiencing some form of eye strain from electronic devices, investing in a pair of light-filtering glasses is a simple way to avoid long-term issues. Here’s what you need to know.
How do they work?
Computer glasses contain non-prescription lenses with an anti-reflective and anti-glare coating. These reduce the reflection bouncing off screens and filter the amount of blue light entering your retina, allowing your eyes to view screens in a more restful state. Good computer glasses should block around 90% of high-energy blue light while letting through the less harmful portion of the blue light spectrum.
Choosing the right lens types
From gamers to graphic designers, there are different types of lenses to consider depending on your needs:
- Low Color Distortion (LCD) – perfect for everyday use and those involved in color-sensitive work.
- Heavy Duty (HD) – if you are big on intense gaming sessions, back-to-back movies, or studying Excel, these are the lenses for you. They will provide the most protection with slightly yellow-tinted lenses.
- Reading lenses + blue light shield – high optical-clarity reading lenses infused with anti-blue light technology provide a 2-in-1 solution.
Rest those weary eyes
Suffering through the symptoms of computer vision syndrome doesn’t need to be your daily reality. Do yourself a favor and pick up a pair of inexpensive computer glasses that suit your needs. Check out the full range from J+S here. Your eyes will thank you.