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Child on phone in bed

Do you have tired, dry eyes and frequent headaches after staring at your computer and cell phone screen all day? Do your children complain of blurry vision or eye twitching? This eye discomfort may be digital eye strain. As more aspects of life transition into the digital realm, the vision strain associated with extended screen time is becoming more common across people of all ages.

Due to the recent pandemic, many of our Campus Eye Center patients—both kids and adults—have experienced a considerable increase in screen time that is likely to continue. As a result, screen use increases have created a lot of worry among parents regarding their children's health and wellbeing.

With schools requiring more remote learning and many adults working from home, everyone has spent much more time on their computers, iPads, and even mobile phone screens. This increase in so-called "near work activities" is perhaps most unnatural for children, who typically attend school in person for at least part of each day and are not always in front of a screen during those hours.

Please schedule an eye exam if you're concerned about your or your child's eye health because of a dramatic increase in screen time. At Campus Eye Center, we understand that screen time is an inevitable part of today's society, and we want to help you take steps to preserve your eyes and prevent damage in the future.

Here's What We Know

According to a new study published in the AAO's journal, Ophthalmology, reports that at least part of the recent worldwide increase in nearsightedness (myopia) has to do with near work activities—with staring at screens for extended periods being at the top of the list.

Not only is there an increased risk for myopia when you stare at screens for long periods, but many technology users experience digital eye strain. Children are no different from adults regarding today's prevalent vision strain issue caused by more screen time.

Our experienced Campus Eye Center eye doctors have recently seen an uptick in younger patients experiencing eye strain and headaches from screen overuse. Kids can experience dry eyes, headaches, and blurry vision, too. While symptoms are typically temporary, they may be frequent or persistent.

Are There Obvious Signs of Digital Eye Strain?

  • Headaches
  • Disrupted Sleep
  • Sore, Burning, or Itchy Eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Watery or Dry Eyes
  • Shoulder or Neck Pain
  • General Eye Discomfort

Regular comprehensive eye exams can help prevent the eye and vision strain associated with increased screen time or prolonged computer usage. When you are at your next eye exam at Campus Eye Center, be sure to discuss your screen time, and we will work to determine how you can decrease your risk of digital eye strain.

A person wearing glasses stares intently at a computer screen

FAQs About Digital Eye Strain

As our world continues to become more digitalized, the time we spend on screens is likely to increase even more each day. Please familiarize yourself with some of the frequently asked questions about eye strain so you can prevent it in your own eyes and maybe help your children do the same.

Does Digital Eye Strain Have Other Names?

Digital Eye Strain may also be called Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS. They are the same condition, though Digital Eye Strain is the more encompassing name since you can develop digital eye strain from any digital device, not just the computer.

Do Digital Devices Cause Vision Problems?

Yes, digital devices can cause vision problems. Prolonged use of any digital device may lead to digital eye strain, a condition that can cause eye discomfort in the form of sore, dry eyes. Tired eyes may also lead to blurry vision, headaches, and muscle pain in the neck and shoulders.

These effects can be temporary but sometimes last for prolonged periods. Repeated exposure to digital screens will increase your risk and likelihood of developing digital eye strain, so remember to take breaks often when working on a computer all day or staring at your phone constantly.

Is There Any Treatment for Digital Eye Strain?

Vision therapy can be helpful for people with digital eye strain, but take preventative measures so you can prevent eye strain from happening at all. Some preventive measures include proper light sources in the room and regular breaks from your computer screen.

Soft, white light in your workspace is preferable to fluorescent bulbs. Sitting at least an arm's length from a newer computer screen will also help prevent eye strain due to glare. Older computers will produce more light, but newer computer monitor models have built-in anti-glare components. Situating a device next to a window instead of in front or behind it can also help reduce glare.

Also, try to be conscious of how much you are blinking, as staring at a screen can cause us to blink less and inadvertently dry out our own eyes. Eye drops may temporarily relieve the pain of eye strain and help to lubricate the eyes if you haven't been blinking enough.

What Is The 20-20-20 Rule?

The 20-20-20 rule is just one preventative measure against digital eye strain. Look at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds after each 20-minute increment of digital device usage. These breaks will keep your eyes more relaxed, as looking in the distance relieves the strain in the eye muscles used for focusing closely.

Do Blue Light Glasses Help Prevent Digital Eye Strain?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, no evidence exists that the blue light from screens causes any eye damage; it is how people use the screens that cause harm. Because of this lack of evidence, and a recent study that shows they do not help, do not expect blue light glasses to prevent eye strain.

What Can You Do?

Because we tend not to blink as often while using computers and other digital devices, it means all of us, no matter our age, need to take more frequent breaks from near-work activities to avoid eye strain.

Ophthalmologists recommend taking a 20-second break from near-sighted work every 20 minutes, and kids may need help from adults to remember to take these breaks. We suggest parents set a timer for kids doing homework in front of the computer so that they get up and take a walk every 20 minutes!

woman with tired eyes
chlid playing on phone in dark

Campus Eye Center Leads the Way in Children's Eye Care in Lancaster

At Campus Eye Center, our mission is to protect, preserve, and improve the vision of those we serve in Lancaster County—children and adults alike—by utilizing a patient-centered practice approach characterized by outstanding clinical, technical, surgical, and personal expertise and service.

We believe that our patients of all ages deserve the best resources and educational materials to help them make informed decisions about their eye health. Our caring and dedicated staff are ready to answer your questions about digital eye strain, and our website offers videos and articles on many vision-related topics. Get in touch with us today!

Campus Eye Center is an exceptional eye center with experienced eye doctors, Ophthalmogists and Optometrists, in Lancaster, PA. We offer total vision care including contact lenses at either of our two locations.

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Campus Eye Center is an exceptional eye center with experienced eye doctors, Ophthalmogists and Optometrists, in Lancaster, PA.
We offer total vision care including contact lenses at either of our two locations.

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