Many of us rely on computers and other digital devices for work, communication, and entertainment. However, all that screen time has some people concerned that prolonged computer use could damage your eyes. It’s certainly a troubling thought — but how much truth is there to it?
We’ve spent years educating people in Calgary and Didsbury about how to take care of their eyes, so we can tell you all about the hazards of staring at computer screens for too long. Read on, and learn the best ways to prevent your digital devices from impacting your vision.
First, the good news: there’s no compelling evidence that using your computer will blind you. Now that you’ve (hopefully) relaxed a little, we can talk about some of the realistic effects staring at computer screens can cause.
Computer use is linked to a condition called Digital Eye Strain (or DES). DES may affect at least 50% of all computer users and present a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms generally fall into two categories: those associated with dry eye disease and those linked to accommodative or binocular vision stress.
An estimated 6 million Canadians suffer from dry eyes. Although dry eyes will not directly cause permanent vision loss, people who have them can still experience severe difficulty and discomfort when performing everyday tasks. Common symptoms of dry eyes include:
Research suggests that dry eye symptoms may worsen the longer you use a computer, hinting at a relationship between dry eyes and DES. However, numerous therapies exist for dry eyes, and an experienced optometrist can help you address their symptoms.
This second category of DES symptoms is related to the way your eyes focus. Put simply, staring at a screen close to your face can tire out the muscles that control the lenses in your eyes. You may experience several things when you overwork these muscles, such as:
It is important to note that none of this category’s symptoms are exclusively caused by looking at a computer screen for long periods. You would also likely experience them if you spent the same amount of time concentrating on any other nearby object. It just so happens that when we stare at something up close these days, it often has a digital display of some kind.
The silver lining in all this is that you don’t need to stop using computers entirely. All you need to do is prevent yourself from overworking the muscles that control your vision and stay alert for signs of dry eyes.
Here are a few easy tips for avoiding discomfort during computer use:
Of course, routine eye exams are especially necessary if you use computers often. Your eye doctor can help you identify signs of DES and dry eyes before they pose significant challenges and can present you with options for dealing with them.
Computers and other digital devices aren’t going anywhere soon, so the best thing you can do is learn to use them without putting your eyes at risk of DES. Consult your optometrist today and make sure you’re following the right steps to use your computer comfortably.