Reading and Eye Strain: What Students Need to Know

The fall semester is already upon us — are your eyes ready for their new workload? Here’s what you need to know about how to prevent digital eye fatigue. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

We’ve just entered the fall semester — you’re probably spending even more time in front of digital screens than you had during the lockdown … And that’s a lot of screen time! You might have experienced some eye strain, visual fatigue, or even headaches after spending too much time binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix or gaming with your friends. Now that you’re going to be doing a lot of work in front of your computer, you might notice even more symptoms of digital eye strain. Before the symptoms become a distraction and affect your ability to study, here are a few things you should know about how to prevent or relieve digital eye strain.

What you need to know about digital eye fatigue.

If you are noticing any changes to your vision, if you’re having pain in your eyes or other symptoms like redness, dry eyes, or repeated headaches, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your optometrist to determine the cause and to receive treatment. Nevertheless, if you’re spending hour after hour in front of a computer screen studying and doing school projects, symptoms like itchy and watery eyes, headaches, blurred vision, or backaches might not be anything new. These are all symptoms of digital eyestrain.

The use of digital communications devices — whether it’s a laptop, computer, tablet, or smartphone — has increased remarkably in the past 10 years as such products became more commonplace and affordable. It is estimated that over 60 percent of Americans have symptoms of digital eye strain when they use their digital communications devices for more than two hours per day. Digital eye strain is associated with a reduced blink rate, which is thought to trigger numerous symptoms, including dry eyes and eye sensitivity.

How to reduce digital eye fatigue.

Having digital eye fatigue isn’t necessarily an emergency situation, but it can influence your ability to concentrate and perform delegate tasks that require visual acuity. Therefore, it is important that you address your symptoms quickly once you notice them. Here are a few tips for reducing digital eye fatigue:

  • Practice the 20\20\20 rule: The 20\20\20 rule posits that taking a break for approximately 20 seconds every 20 minutes so that you can focus on an object that is 20 feet away can help alleviate eye strain.
  • Make sure to blink regularly: You might not be aware of the fact that you’re blinking less when looking at a digital screen. Blinking helps to keep the eyes moist and lubricated. Make sure to blink a few times per minute while working on your computer.
  • Stretch your legs: Getting up and moving around can help you optimize your blood circulation and also rest your eyes.
  • Make sure your lighting is appropriate: Overhead lighting can exacerbate digital eye fatigue. Make sure your lighting is comfortable with no obvious glare. Also, make sure your computer screen brightness is it the same level as your ambient light.
  • Adjust your computer position: Your computer screen should be approximately 24 inches away from your eyes. It should also be angled roughly 20 degrees below your eye level.

If you’re experiencing eye fatigue, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your local eye care professional. There are numerous strategies, including certain types of eyewear, that can significantly reduce digital eye strain symptoms. You might find that this not only helps your comfort, but it improves her academic performance! OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye care services, including eye exams, contact lens fittings, and a one-hour on-site lab.

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s most respected optometry specialists, having practiced in South Florida for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.