Does Remote Work or Learning Cause Eye Strain?

By Man­ali Patel, OD

The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has caused mil­lions of work­ers and stu­dents to rely on tech­nol­o­gy to per­form every­day tasks. Many com­pa­nies and schools uti­lize vir­tu­al meet­ing plat­forms to stay con­nect­ed and safe dur­ing this unprece­dent­ed time. How­ev­er, this new nor­mal of com­mu­ni­cat­ing through and work­ing on a screen for long hours may be caus­ing eye strain or over­all eye dis­com­fort. In fact, it’s report­ed that more than 50 per­cent of peo­ple of all ages expe­ri­ence eye strain from dig­i­tal devices.1 The pain can be dis­tract­ing while try­ing to work or learn, but thank­ful­ly there are ways you can com­bat eyestrain. 

Symp­toms of eye strain

  • Burn­ing eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Headache, espe­cial­ly behind your eyes
  • Light sen­si­tiv­i­ty
  • Dou­ble vision

Caus­es of eye strain

A lot of peo­ple expe­ri­ence eye strain after star­ing at a screen, focus­ing on a sin­gle task for an extend­ed amount of time. You might feel addi­tion­al eye strain if the device is not set to prop­er visu­al settings. 

How your at-home work­place is set up can also impact your eyes. Sit­ting too close to your screen can cause eye dis­com­fort and fatigue. Addi­tion­al­ly, if you’re work­ing on your com­put­er or tablet for extend­ed peri­ods of time, reduced blink rates, low home humid­i­ty lev­els or work­ing in a room with a fan may con­tribute to over­all eye dry­ness. Incor­rect or out­dat­ed eye­glass­es or con­tact pre­scrip­tions also add to eye strain and fatigue.

Pro­tect­ing your eyes

There are sim­ple ways to avoid eye strain while using your dig­i­tal devices. Reg­u­lar eye appoint­ments are crit­i­cal for your eye health, as is mak­ing sure your vision pre­scrip­tion is up-to-date. Anoth­er way to pro­tect your eyes includes sit­ting at arm’s length away from your screen. Adjust­ing the set­tings on your dig­i­tal device can help too; make sure screen con­trast, text size and glare are all set up to your spe­cif­ic needs to reduce eye strain. 

Anoth­er rec­om­men­da­tion from optometrists and oph­thal­mol­o­gists is using the 20−20−20 rule. This means for every 20 min­utes of screen time you should look 20 feet away for 20 sec­onds to give your eyes a brief break. This gives you an oppor­tu­ni­ty to peri­od­i­cal­ly blink and relax your visu­al sys­tem. You may also con­sid­er incor­po­rat­ing a lipid-based arti­fi­cial tear to sup­port your nat­ur­al tear qual­i­ty dur­ing pro­longed ses­sions of screen time. Invest­ing in a pair of glass­es and device cov­ers can min­i­mize the amount of blue light from screens your eyes are exposed to, fur­ther reduc­ing eye strain-relat­ed headaches.

If you expe­ri­ence changes with your vision or want to learn more about how you can pro­tect your eyes, sched­ule an Oph­thal­mol­o­gy appoint­ment online or by call­ing your pre­ferred location.

1Dig­i­tal Eye Strain: Myths and Facts (2020, March 19). In Optometrists Net­work. Retrieved from https://​www​.optometrists​.org/​v​i​s​i​o​n​-​t​h​e​r​a​p​y​/​d​i​g​i​t​a​l​-​e​y​e​-​s​t​rain/

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