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While you are reading this article, you may experience blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck pain, headaches, or dry eyes. These symptoms are quite common among people who use digital devices and are a result of digital eye strain that occurs while staring at our computer or tablet, and our constant companions: smartphones. How many hours per day do you spend staring at a computer screen, on your tablet, or your smartphone? An hour? Two, three or more? From the boardroom to the living room, we rely on our devices to stay informed, entertain ourselves, connect with others, and for many, earn a living. Our computers and mobile devices deliver countless benefits. At the same time, they can also serve up a less beneficial side effect: eye strain.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Eye strain caused by digital devices affects almost everyone, as more than 80 percent of Americans spend time daily working on a computer or using a hand-held device, according to the Vision Council. In fact, if you spend two or more hours at a time sitting in front of a digital screen or using a smart device every day, you are at risk for a condition known as “computer vision syndrome”. According to the American Optometric Association, Digital Eye Strain (DES) describes a group of eye and vision-related problems caused by prolonged computer, tablet, cell phone, and even e-reader use. Common symptoms of DES include eye strain, dryness, redness, headache, and blurry vision.

Blue Light Is Not Your Friend

Today’s computer monitors and digital devices emit a high-energy blue light. Exposure to this light can contribute to DES in as little as two hours. After blue light enters your eyes the light scatters, causing your eyes to work overtime trying to focus that scattered light. Compare that to running a marathon where the finish line keeps moving – resulting in a lot of strain and effort with nothing to show for it.

Reducing DES and Computer Vision Syndrome

Here are four easy tips from Healthcare IT consulting experts to help you minimize issues with vision and eye strain while using your digital devices:

  • Talk to your eye doctor. An annual visit to your eye doctor is essential for your eye health, especially children and teens. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, ask your eye doctor about the best lens option to reduce eye strain. If you don’t wear glasses or corrective lenses, some eye strain can be lessened by wearing non-prescription glasses with a blue light coating like TechShield Blue.
  • Dim the lights on your devices. One tip from your healthcare IT solutions experts is to lower the brightness on your screen in order to reduce your exposure to blue light, especially during evening hours. If you have LED or CFL lighting dim those at home or work as well, as they also emit blue light. Look for a medical IT support professional who can help.  They can recommend an app or program on your device that will dim or reduce blue light exposure.
  • Maintain your digital distance. Keep blue light at bay by finding a comfortable working distance from your screen as far from your face as possible. Hold digital devices at arm’s length away from your face.
  • Observe the 20-20-20 rule. When using a digital device, give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by spending at least 20 seconds looking at an object at least 20 feet away. Take a 15-minute break from the screen every 2 hours. Use eyedrops to help you blink more, which moistens your eyes and may help reduce dry eyes and visual discomfort.

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