The surprising reason for your red, achy eyes

You may notice you’re spending more time in front of the computer or TV screen while staying at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s the end of a long workday or after a day of streaming TV shows, your body and brain may be ready for a break. You may not realize that your eyes need one, too. 

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, is a group of eye discomfort issues and vision problems may result from prolonged digital screen use. The issue can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Fifty-nine percent of American adults report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain, which includes:

  • Red, dry eyes
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

The symptoms may be caused by issues such as poor lighting, screen glare, uncorrected vision problems or improper desk configurations. While it does not cause permanent eye damage, the condition puts a strain on a vitally important part of your body. 

Screen time is a fact of life for just about everyone, but there are ways to manage your eye health while using computers or mobile devices for work or play. Here are four tips to help you protect your eyes, as recommended by the American Optometric Association:

  1. Use the 20-20-20 rule and other rest tactics: Give your eyes some respite during the day. Set an alert to notify you after every 20 minutes of screen time. Take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. While working, remember to blink frequently. If your eyes begin to feel strained, massage the area around them. 
  2. Check the tech: Keep your device clean, install an anti-glare screen and set your monitor as bright as comfortable. If strain is becoming a problem, consult with your eye doctor about computer glasses that help optimize eyesight when looking at screens.
  3. Ensure proper workspace design: Pull down window shades around your screen when sunlight is bright. Make sure surrounding lighting is dim and balanced. You want to avoid harsh lighting that creates shadows on the screen.
  4. Visit the eye doctor: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends that all computer users have an eye exam yearly. Find a local optometrist or ophthalmologist to consult about screen use and eye health, and check whether the provider works with your health plan.