Behind the lens

Lockdown 2: Digital Eye Strain

As the impact of COVID results in more and more of us spending our days staring at screens for hours on end for work or leisure, at home and at the office, or pub, or in a poorly lit bedroom or a shed in the garden even – it certainly does not look like it will be stopping anytime soon, or if we will ever return to “normal”. However, there are things we can do to prevent or ease digital eye strain.

Think 20-20-20 – (despite 2020 perhaps not being our best year?) Whilst it sounds relatively simple to do so, many of us forget to just have a break from the screen – when we look at the time hours, not minutes seem to have passed. The 20-20-20 rule is: – Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 metres away for 20 seconds. Doing this allows the focusing muscles in the eyes to relax thus reducing eye fatigue. Perhaps set an alarm on your phone, watch or computer to remind you – until it becomes a habit.

Where and when possible adjust your lighting as most office environments have lighting that is much too bright for screen use. This can cause screen glare; adding to the effects of digital eye strain. By reducing the lighting to approximately 50% of what is normal, this should compensate for the light of the already bright device screen.

Take time to adjust your screen so it is comfortable. If using a desktop make sure your screen is in line with your natural gaze, which is usually just below eye level. You could also adjust the brightness of any digital screen. Most smartphones and tablets now have an adaptive screen which changes brightness aligned with your surroundings. It is a great function that many do not even know exists. Along with brightness control, most screens now have some sort of blue light filter that you can switch on and off as you please. This is also available as a coating on prescription or non-prescription glasses. Zeiss Blue protect coating can be applied to many lenses and are most commonly used with Zeiss office lenses.

Remember to blink. Consciously blinking will greatly increase the tear quality of your eyes, keeping them from becoming dry and uncomfortable. It can be a difficult to add in a new habit to your day, so if you do find it a struggle – don’t suffer in silence, there are eye drops (artificial tears) you can use throughout the day. Most artificial tears are available over the counter without a prescription. However, we would highly recommend Thealoz Duo drops for day and Thealoz Duo gel for night to manage the condition, as these do not contain any preservatives, therefore do not cause further irritation to the cells in the eye.

Computer glasses – these lenses are known as “boost” or Zeiss Digital lenses that are relatively new innovation. They have been designed specifically for people with this particular type of eye strain. They target short sighted (myopic) 20-40 year olds suffering with eye strain symptoms. The Zeiss digital lenses have a small section of magnification that varies in power which sit just in front of the eyes natural gaze towards a screen. This means the eye’s focusing muscles do not have to work as hard, reducing eye fatigue. Other lens solutions for digital eye strain include varifocals, single vision computer, office or occupational lenses with Zeiss Digital lens Blue protect. It is always best to take the advice from your optician and attend for your regular eye health checks.