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Digital Eye Strain – Virtual Learning

As children return to school virtually and many adults are now working from home, it is important to consider our eyes. Our eyes work so hard for us all day and they deserve our care because screen time can lead to digital eye strain if proper precautions are not taken. Symptoms of digital eye strain include dryness, scratchy/gritty feeling, fluctuating vision, redness, and burning.

Blue light is a necessary evil for our eyes. Our sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) depends on blue light to help us keep a bedtime routine, but there are harmful wavelengths of blue light that can create damage over time and too much exposure to blue light before bed can make falling asleep and getting deep sleep much more difficult. Prolonged use of digital devices can create eye strain and fatigue, trouble falling asleep, and dry eye; so I felt it was necessary to provide some tips to decrease symptoms of digital eye strain.

The most important and easiest tip is following the “20/20/20 Rule”. This means that every 20 minutes, you take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away while blinking. This simple exercise allows the eyes to rest and recharge. Our eyes work hard to focus when working up close and the constant contraction, or focus, can make them very tired. Set a time to get into a habit.

When using a digital device (phone, tablet, computer, laptop), it should be as far away as possible. We all have a tendency to sit close to the screen or hold our phones and tablets too close to our eyes, but this creates more demand on our eyes. So push the device out to an arm’s length away, and it should be slightly lower than eye level. It is not a good idea to look up at a screen as that can also create issues with your neck and make it more difficult to focus.

Brightness should match that of the room. If you are in a bright room, the brightness should be higher, but if you are in a dark room the brightness needs to be at minimum. Most Apple products have an auto-adjustment for the brightness, but if your device does not, be sure to adjust it each time. Most devices have a night-mode and it should be turned on when working in the dark.

We all need to “THINK TO BLINK” when working with our devices. Our blink rate decreases by more than half when we are using our devices, reading, or focusing up close. This creates dry, burning, red eyes. We all need reminders to fully blink. Forming a habit of intentional blinking will keep the surface of the eye more lubricated and decrease dry eye.

One of the most important properties of eyeglass lenses is an anti-reflective coating. Anti-glare properties are important for those that use digital devices regularly as they decrease glare from screens and filter harmful blue light, all while providing a clearer image. Premium anti-glare properties include decreased reflections from the lens material, UV protection, scratch resistance, blue light protection, easier to clean lenses, and a 1-2 year warranty depending on the product.

We know that long exposure to blue light is harmful, so in my opinion, doing what we can to limit exposure is the least we can do. If you do not require prescription glasses, there are blue light blocking glasses that do not require a prescription. EyeOs is one of the best over-the-counter blue-light blocking glasses on the market with a high quality anti-glare property, special lens design (aspheric lens design), and a great 2 year warranty on both the lenses and frame. EyeOs come with no prescription and in all reading powers. You can find EyeOs at ForSight.

Dr. Morrow highly recommends regular comprehensive eye exams. It is recommended that all children have their first eye exam before the age of one year, again at 3 years old, before kindergarten, and then again before third grade to ensure their eyes are healthy, the eye muscles are teaming together as they should, and that their vision is developing as it should. Young adults and adults under the age of 50 should have their eyes checked annually if they wear contact lenses or every 1-2 years if they do not. After the age of 50, annual eye exams are strongly recommended.

Your eyes work hard for you and they deserve the best care, in my opinion. There is very little that we can do the same without sight so it is important to value our eyes and our vision. Care for your eyes by following Dr. Morrow’s recommendations.

To schedule your eye exam, please visit www.forsighteye.net or call or text our office at (912)483-6600

Erika Morrow
[email protected]


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