If your eyes get irritated and tired after hours and hours of being on a computer, video game, pad, smartphone or other digital display, you are not alone. Eye strain from computer use is very common, a consequence of our ever-increasing reliance on the displays for work, communication, recreation and pleasure. Computer related eye strain will not cause permanent eye damage by itself, but the irritation and tiredness can lead to headaches and migraines. Viewing 3-D displays can also produce motion sickness for individuals with depth perception difficulties. When compounded by lack of sleep and irresponsible use of contact lenses, eye strain from computer use can lead to much more significant problems.
What causes computer related eye strain? There are a number of reasons: humans blink about 18 times/minute on average, this allows the eyes to be properly lubricated with the tears and oils produced by the meibomian glands on the eyelids. When we are staring at a screen, the rate of blinking is reduced to about 9 times/minute, consequently, the eyes will not be properly lubricated. Extended reading, writing or any other work requiring near vision can also produce this same result. Sitting too close or too far away from the display, and glare from improper lighting can also contribute to the problem.
Dr. Belmont suggests:
Lack of Sleep
Computer eye strain will only be exacerbated by lack of sleep. Prolonged sleep allows the eyes to rest and be replenished with nutrients provided by the eye lids. Deprived of this ability, eye strain becomes worse and could lead to swelling or even infection. Let your tired eyes be an indication for when to stop, get some rest, and call it a day. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible. Powering down, turning off computers, televisions, loud noise and excessive lighting at home for a half an hour to forty-five minutes before going to bed is a great way to get back in tune with your circadian rhythm and wind down for a good night’s rest.
Proper Use of Contact lenses
Irresponsible use of contact lenses, compounded by eye strain and lack of sleep can lead to more serious problems. If you wear contact lenses and find yourself on a computer for extended periods of time, Dr. Belmont states that it is of the utmost importance that you:
it is very important that you stop wearing your contacts and see an ophthalmologist right away if your eyes become red, irritated, sensitive to light, watery or sore, or if they become swollen and start to discharge as these may be signs of infection.
Keep these few pointers in mind as you work and play throughout the week. This way, you’ll be sure to reduce or even better, avoid eye strain altogether. It’s not so difficult to integrate these into your routine. You will soon see that you’ll feel all the better for it!