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5 Tips to Help Reduce Digital Eye Strain

How many hours a day do you spend staring at a screen? An hour? Three to four hours? More? According to recent studies Australians spend more time in front of a screen then they do sleeping! On average we spend 9.4 hours a day in front of a screen, whether that's our phone, tablet, computer, TV or gaming devices.

And why wouldn't we? Today's world runs on digital. Mobile devices and computers deliver countless benefits to help us stay informed and connected. However, they can also serve up a less beneficial side effect.

Many digital devices and computer monitors emit blue light, and blue light exposure can contribute to digital eye strain. Here's why: After blue light enters your eyes it scatters. Your eyes then must work extra hard to focus that scattered light. In other words, your peepers are putting in overtime daily, which can contribute to repetitive eye strain and associated headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. Consider the following five ways to reduce your blue light exposure and decrease the potential onset of digital eye strain.

  1. Ask the expert (your optometrist!)

    An annual trip to your local VSP network optometrist is critical for the entire family (especially children). Ask them about the best options to help you and your children reduce eye strain, whether that's in the form of computer vision or blue light lenses. Even if you don't wear corrective lenses, some blue light coatings can be applied to non-prescription eyewear. These lenses absorb and reflect blue light and reduce glare, which puts less strain on your eyes.

  2. Observe the 20-20-20 rule

    Give your eyes a break every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away (6 meters). Also, blinking more often helps to moisten your eyes, which may help reduce visual discomfort.

  3. Maintain your digital distance

    Find a comfortable working distance from your screen. This is especially important for children as the intensity of light increases exponentially the closer our eyes are to the source. Children should hold devices as far away from their eyes as is comfortable. Adults are encouraged to hold devices at arm's length.

  4. Dim the lights

    Turn down the brightness level of device screens to reduce the amount of blue light exposure, especially during the evening hours. Additionally, as LED and CFL lighting also emit blue light, it would be a good idea to dim those at home or work if possible. Where you can, opt to use lightbulbs with a "warm white" colour tone.

  5. Put it down before bedtime

    Many studies have proven the blue light affects your body's circadian rhythm, which is our natural wake and sleep cycle. This is because the blue light emitted by our digital devices supresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls this circadian rhythm. Therefore, it is recommended that you stop using digital devices at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.