These days, while using your devices, you may be suffering from headaches and burning eyes, experience blurry vision, feel tired — or all of the above.
More than likely, the constant or frequent use of your cellphone, tablet, laptop and television — all the screens in your life — are the cause.
People who are constantly staring at screens and devices may experience eye strain and much more, according to a recent study published in Cureus, The Journal of Medical Science.
Vision experts weighed in on digital eye strain, a serious medical concern today — and what people can do to reduce the risks.
Here’s a deeper dive.
Digital devices like computers and smartphones emit blue light. And as blue light enters the eye, it scatters before reaching the retina, causing our eyes to work overtime to try to focus and process the light from the screen on our devices, said Danny Mathew, O.D., a VSP Vision network doctor with EYEWORKS in Fort Worth, Texas.
VSP Vision is the nation’s largest and only not-for-profit vision benefits company.
“The result is visual strain and fatigue known as digital eye strain,” said Mathew.
This defocused light is perceived as glare, he said. And “the more blue light in the environment, the greater the glare.”
Blue light is linked to the onset of digital eye strain in as little as two hours of exposure, according to research — and The Vision Council says that more than half of all Americans experience symptoms of digital eye strain.
Digital eye strain symptoms can include blurred vision, tired eyes, sore eyes, headaches and dry eyes, said Mathew.
“These symptoms are a result of the muscles in our eyes overworking to focus on the screen in front of us and the impact of the light being emitted from our devices,” he added.
When we’re using digital devices, we do not blink as much, so our eyes are not getting the correct amount of lubrication — resulting in dry and irritated eyes, Mathew told Fox News Digital.
There are a few steps to take.
“Adjusting your screen to a more comfortable distance is an easy fix to help minimize digital eye strain,” said Jen Waderman, O.D., also a VSP network doctor with Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, California.
“You can do this by either moving your computer screen to arm’s distance or pulling your smartphone farther away.”
Also, adjusting your device’s brightness is another simple step that can help reduce glare and eye strain, she noted.
Furthermore, a way to combat dry eyes related to regular computer and device use is applying artificial tears, but do exercise care in selecting your products, Waderman noted.
“Make sure they are preservative-free and definitely avoid any generic artificial tears, since there were a number of mass recalls earlier this year,” Waderman said.
“Your eye doctor can help recommend reputable brand options for you,” she also said.
The symptoms noted earlier such as eye strain, eye fatigue and headaches “are a result of the muscles in our eyes overworking to maintain clear and focused vision when viewing things up close,” Waderman said.
“To combat this, be sure to take frequent breaks and look at other objects besides screens and close-up devices.”
Lens products are available that help reduce excessive blue-light exposure. One example of this technology is TechShield Blue AB, said Mathew with EYEWORKS.
“It’s an anti-reflective lens coating that reduces exposure to blue light and combats digital eye strain,” he said. “It also has a near-clear appearance unlike other blue light-reducing lens products that can give off a strong purple or orange/yellow hue.”
Some blue-light glasses products may say they have that blue light “blocking” feature, he said — but they may negatively impact a customer’s visual experience.
“For example, a product may block more light than wavelengths in the UV/blue range, making it difficult to see in certain lighting conditions,” Mathew said.
Whenever you find yourself spending a long time looking at a digital device, Waderman with Bidwell Optometry recommended taking frequent breaks.
“Get up, walk around, stretch or look out the window to give your eyes a rest,” she said.
“Power down your devices before heading to bed,” she also said.
“You may also want to consider lowering the brightness of your screen or enabling blue-light settings such as night mode to help reduce the glare from your devices.”
Daniel A. Greninger, M.D., spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and ophthalmologist at Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center in Antioch, California, said the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests following the 20-20-20 rule to remember to blink and defocus the eyes.
Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
And if you continue experiencing discomfort in your eyes — don’t assume it’s nothing.
“Instead, see an eye care professional for an eye exam,” Greninger said.