What is Electronic Display Eye Strain AKA Computer Vision Syndrome?

Digital eye strain is the result of your eyes working hard when viewing monitors, TV or computer screens. Thanks to both the way the electronic displays work as well as a reduction in blinking during prolonged viewing, you’ll likely experience strain, irritation, and temporary vision problems as a result. Unfortunately, no one is free from digital eye strain. Children and adults who spend a lot of time on their screens show similar symptoms related to computer vision syndrome (CVS).

What are the causes and symptoms of CVS?

For the eyes, focusing on an electronic display is more demanding than when viewing a flat, two-dimensional surface. Edges of games and computer graphics lack definition. Instead of solid contrast and bold edges, displays on electronic screens are shown in groups of pixels, which can be simply (if not scientifically) described as “dots” on the screen. Sadly, this makes focusing a constant struggle, even if you aren’t noticing it, causing eye strain.

CVS causes many annoying and distracting discomforts. Among these nuisances are dry or itchy eyes, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light, double vision, and headaches. Additionally, CVS can develop neck and shoulder pain from leaning forward or tilting their head. People have also reported pseudo myopia, a temporary inability to focus on objects at a distance.

Man Watching TV

What are the effects of Blue Light?

Blue light has the shortest wavelength and therefore the highest energy and makes the eyes work hard to focus in on details on the screen. Blue light between 380 and 470nm is considered harmful and can cause retinal damage and cataracts after long periods of exposure. In particular, 450nm, the range most digital devices produce, can be especially hard on the eyes as this blue light is the only light that penetrates the eye all the way to the back of the retina. Blue light affects our sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other visible light and can even cause sleep disorders after prolonged exposure.

Do not fear, not all blue light is harmful. In fact, studies show that blue light in the 500nm area is actually beneficial for you, allowing natural reflexes to prevent light overexposure. It can even help with the body’s circadian rhythms, cognitive and memory functions.

How to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

Although CVS is not known to pose any adverse long-term effects to a person’s vision, it’s distracting and takes away from the productivity or enjoyment of the time spent. There are several things people can do to decrease or prevent bothersome CVS symptoms.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to avoid eyestrain from an electronic display is to take periodic breaks. Manufacturers of video game consoles recommend a ten-minute break for every hour of play. Next time you are playing your PlayStation or XBox, try taking a moment to get up. Walk around and rest your eyes from the glare of the screen before getting back into the game.

Eye Drops

Eye drops can help to alleviate the dry, itchy eyes associated with CVS, and decreasing the display’s brightness will reduce glare and could prevent a headache. Squinting might be avoided by increasing the font size on the screen. If these steps aren’t enough, prescription and non-prescription computer glasses are available and designed specifically to make computer screen viewing easier.

How to manage harmful Blue Light Exposure

Limiting your exposure to blue light is the key. Spend less time looking at electronic displays, including phones and TV. This will make a significant difference in your digital eye strain. So take breaks. I recommend taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes of viewing time. If that doesn’t work, try the ten minutes for every hour. Stand up, stretch, use the bathroom, do anything you need before coming back to your desk or your couch.

Dimming the brightness of your screen and increasing font size can prevent squinting and straining your eyes. Stay away from your phone or any screen at least 30 minutes before bedtime and don’t let it be the first thing you look at when you wake up. Accomplishing this can help prevent sleep disorders caused by blue light exposure.

If these steps are not enough, there are blue light blocking computer glasses available to help manage how much blue light your eyes are being exposed to.

Gunnar Optiks Gaming Eyewear

What is the Perfect Eyewear for Screen Viewing

Gunnar Optiks has a line of patented lens technology specifically designed for CVS prevention and blue light exposure management. There are several stylish frames that you can choose from and different lenses that fulfill your needs. 

The AMBER lens tint filters 65% of harmful high-intensity blue light for long-term screen viewing. 

The  CRYSTALLINE lens tint is designed specifically for graphic designers, video/film editors and creative visual artists who require an equally balanced color spectrum. It filters 10% of harmful high-intensity blue light. It provides a moderate amount of production but doesn’t alter coloration. 

Of course, there is also an OUTDOOR option. This lens tint creates a more comfortable and rich visual experience for anyone viewing digital devices outdoors. The Outdoor lens filters all harmful UVA and UVB light while still allowing a clear view of your screen outside.

Tell us what you think

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By | 2017-11-09T16:52:34+00:00 June 23rd, 2017|All Posts, Featured Post, Vision Health|0 Comments

About the Author:

Kait Eldridge is a published writer currently attending San Francisco State University. SFSU is a university devoted to diversity and humanity. Kait enjoys creative writing, reading, gaming, and learning about new neuroscience and astronomical studies.

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