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If we were all addicted to screens before the pandemic, we’ve certainly upped the hours we put in since it began. We spend all day interacting with our digital devices while stuck inside for both work and play. Add in all the virtual meetings and other virtual gatherings that have become part of our new norm, and that can put a real strain on our eyes.
Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, as this very modern condition is known, is incredibly common and eye strain symptoms include:
The simplest solution to combating digital eye strain is ridiculously obvious: You need to look away from the screen! The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends following the 20-20-20 rule, which consists of stepping away from the screen every 20 minutes and taking a 20-second break, focusing on something at least 20 feet away.
Taking a moment to go get a glass of water or walk around for a few minutes while taking a few deep breaths will help your body feel better in general.
Another suggestion on how to protect eyes from screen fatigue is to adjust the environment where are viewing screens.
Many of us log off from our work computer or laptop and then switch from a big screen to a smaller one designed to be held close to our face. This is not great for our eyes either! Here’s how to lessen the effects of that:
Blue light blocking lenses — sometimes sold as “computer glasses” - are marketed as a solution to fight digital eye strain and conserve macula health. Over the past year more companies have sprung up selling these lenses, and they’ve become something of a trend. Unfortunately, they probably don’t help and are dismissed by many eye health experts and professional bodies.
According to the College of Optometrists in England, there is no scientific evidence that supports the use of blue light protection glasses to “improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macula health.” The American Academy of Ophthalmology goes a step further and says that there is no scientific evidence that supports the use of specific eyewear for computer use.
So, although some people swear by blue lenses, you’re likely better off following the advice of resting your eyes regularly and setting up a better screen-viewing environment.
If, once you’ve learned how to avoid digital eye strain, your eyes are still irritated or tired, get yourself to an eye doctor for a check-up to make sure that nothing more serious is at play. You may be having issues because you need glasses or a change in your prescription, or because there’s some other condition affecting your vision.
Getting our eyes checked out every few years is a good idea anyway, especially once we get past 40 as that’s when vision starts to decline for most people. Just because you never needed glasses before doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future.
Québec Blue Cross® health insurance can help cover costs associated with eye health that are not covered by the RAMQ or group benefits. Learn more about our solutions.