How To Prevent Digital Eye Strain

BOSTON (CBS) – We spend way too much time on devices like computers and smartphones and as Dr. Mallika Marshall explains, that may not be good for our eyes.

You may not realize how many devices you bounce between as you go through the day. Your computer, your cell phone, maybe a tablet or wearable device. And all that visual bouncing around can put a real strain on your eyes.

Christopher Coletti works in technology sales, so he spends a lot of time on his laptop and smartphone.

“I started noticing that I was having headaches and eyestrain and constantly blinking,” says Coletti.

He suffers from digital eye strain and he is not alone. A new survey from the Vision Council shows nearly 8 in 10 Americans who suffer from digital eye strain use two or more devices at the same time.

“The main cause of digital eye strain is working at a close distance,” says optometrist Dr. Jessi Lee of Park Slope Eye, “The human eyes weren’t designed to spend 10 to 12 hours a day looking up close so it’s a relatively new phenomenon,” she adds.

The survey of more than 10,000 adults also found 65% of Americans suffer from symptoms such as dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches as well as neck and back pain from staring at screens.

Dr. Lee thinks it’s even higher than that. She says you can help prevent digital eye strain by using the 20/20/20 rule.

“For every 20 minutes that you’re working up close take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet further away and that just allows your eyes to refresh and start back fresh,” says Dr. Lee.

For Coletti, new lenses made for digital eye strain were the ultimate fresh start. “From the moment I put on my prescription, I felt my eyes instantly relax and when I come home at the end of the day I’m no longer fatigued and wanting to close my eyes,” says Coletti.

He says the screens aren’t going anywhere, but the strain is all gone.

Doctors also say pushing your screen further back and increasing the font size on your device can put less stress on your eyes. They also recommend yearly eye exams whether or you’re experiencing visual symptoms or not.

More from Dr. Mallika Marshall
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