About 80 percent of U.S. adults say they use screens at least two hours per day. And 59 percent have reported experiencing some form of digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain can include a number of symptoms, including dry eyes, irritation, sensitivity to light, trouble focusing, and blurry vision. If not addressed, these symptoms can turn into chronic problems.
This issue can be especially problematic for entrepreneurs, since screens are such a huge part of running a business in 2019. If you strain your eyes and have trouble seeing or focusing, it could end up impacting your productivity and effectiveness.
How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain
Luckily, there are a few fairly simple things you can do to lessen your chances of experiencing digital eye strain or dealing with the symptoms. Small Business Trends recently spoke with Dr. Hanish Patel, optometrist and founding partner of Eye Associates of New York and The Center for Ophthalmic and Vision Research, who offered some expert tips.
Have an Eye Exam
Even if screens are at the root of your eye issues, there may be other factors that play a role as well. If you can correct those issues, it could help you lessen your symptoms dramatically.
Patel said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “A lot of patients have untreated vision issues. And correcting those problems could help you, even if you’re still staring at screens all day.”
Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
Of course, taking a break from staring at your computer or smartphone could greatly benefit your eyes. However, long breaks aren’t always possible. Since Patel treats plenty of professionals in Manhattan, he acknowledges this reality. But he says that even short breaks every so often can make a big difference. To help you remember, he broke it down into a rule that he and other eye care professionals call 20/20/20.
He explains, “You just need to take a break for 20 seconds every 20 minutes where you look at something that’s at least 20 feet away.”
Change Up Your Computer Screen
Blue light from computer monitors and mobile devices is one of the factors that contributes to eye strain. However, there are now monitors that emit less of that blue light, so they’re essentially easier on your eyes.
BenQ is one company that’s taking a step in this direction. The company has a line of monitors that filters some of those harmful blue light rays so they don’t harm your eyes as much as traditional screens, without impacting picture quality. They also offer entertainment and gaming solutions. So you could replace some of the items in your home as well if you tend to look at screens a lot during your off time.
Use Blue Light Glasses
There are also filtering products that help you reflect some of that blue light before it makes it to your eyes. The most popular option currently available is probably blue light glasses. These are non-prescription lenses that simply reflect some of those harmful rays. In addition to strain, blue light can also promote alertness and impact your ability to sleep at night, especially if you tend to use your phone or computer in the evenings.
This likely won’t solve the problem completely, as blue light isn’t the full reason for digital eye strain. The focus that your eyes place on screens for long periods of time can still contribute to symptoms. So this shouldn’t be used in place of taking periodic breaks or setting up an eye exam. But it could be a decent complementary option.
Adjust the Light in Your Office
The light around your screens can also impact the strain that you put on your eyes. Of course, you need to make sure that there’s enough quality lighting so that you and your employees aren’t constantly squinting to see. But Patel acknowledges that offices usually do a good job of providing enough light.
More often, the problem lies in having too much light in some spots or uneven lighting. If there’s a glare on your screen from an overhead light or lamp, it could contribute to your digital eye strain symptoms. So it might be worth evaluating your lighting plan and changing up some of the fixtures if you or your employees have to deal with glare.