Digital eye strain is a condition characterized by eye strain resulting from using your digital devices for several hours per day over a long period of time. Among the side effects you may get are a lot of eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.
Dr. Pinkhasov is often asked if she recommends blue light filters for digital eye strain. However, studies on this topic have shown mixed results. According to some studies, blue blocking filters do not reduce or show any significant impact in reducing digital eye strain. However, they do have an effect on your internal clock and sleep cycle. This is due to the fact that when we look at our digital devices, they emit this blue light, which diminishes the effects of melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm which tells us when it is day and night, and therefore regulates our bodies internal clock that gets us into sleep mode. When the blue light from your screen diminishes the melatonin in your body, it may make you feel more awake and alert, making it harder to fall asleep later at night. Therefore, if you're on your phone right before you go to sleep, you'll probably have a hard time falling asleep. Blue light filters help to prevent this.
There hasn't been a study specifically demonstrating a direct significant impact of blue light filters on digital eye strain. However, some patients of Dr. Pinkhasov did notice an improvement in their digital eye strain after getting these blue light filters in their glasses, then they saw an improvement in their symptoms, and their eyes did not feel as irritated as before. Unfortunately, some patients didn't notice a difference after getting these filters. According to Dr. Pinkhasov, because blue light filters are not harmful, she would recommend using those since they help with sleep by helping our bodies better regulate their sleep cycle. And since the science is not yet clear on digital eye strain we may also be able to have some relief from digital eye strain.
While the science is still not clear on the impact of blue light blocking lenses on digital eye strain, there are tried and true things that you should do to reduce digital eye strain when using a computer or phone.
Using digital devices for a long time can cause your eyes to feel really dry, painful, strained, gritty, or watery. This is because you don't blink as often or as fully as you should when using these devices for a long time, and when you don't blink as often, you do not lubricate the front of your eyes. This causes your eyes to feel dry and irritated. It might help if you cut down on your computer time (but that may be asking too much from you!). What Dr. Pinkhasov tells her patients is to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which means to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
When you are using a computer, phone, or tablet for extended periods, you should take breaks, readjust your focus, look far away so that you can then give your eyes a rest, and learn how to blink fully so that you can relubricate the front part of your eyes. You can also apply artificial tears to help relieve dry eye symptoms.
A filter screen can be placed on your computer to eliminate glare. You can also place an anti-glare coating on your glasses to eliminate any glare from a digital device like your computer, phone or iPads.
It's also crucial to maintain a healthy posture when working on digital devices. Make sure that you seat yourself at an elevated position and keep your digital device at arm's length. As a result, you will be looking down at the computer from a 15 to 20 degree angle.
What we love about this is that it allows you to reduce blue light without spending extra money on something that is not scientifically proven yet. You can also turn on the yellow or night mode on your digital device towards the end of the day to get rid of those harsh blue lights that are coming from your digital devices so that it doesn't affect your sleep cycle as much. This is especially important if you are suffering from any sort of digital eye strain.
The tips above will help you reduce the symptoms of digital eye strain, however we always recommend that you visit an optometrist for an eye exam in order to better understand the symptoms and rule out other potential causes. For example the symptoms of digital eye strain may be the result of an improper balance of your tear film or a poor prescription.
Make sure you see your eye doctor today so they can diagnose and properly treat your condition and determine what the best course of action is for you. Call our office at 212-752-6930 to schedule an eye exam today.
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