Looking After Your Eyes in the Screen Age

16/10/2019

Creating links between screen time and eye health can be a complex and tenuous undertaking. While computer screens and digital devices can affect our eyes in a number of different ways, screen use itself is unlikely to cause permanent damage. However, despite the lack of evidence surrounding long-term damage, digital eye strain is a recognised condition that continues to affect more people each year. According to the Vision Council, 59 percent of people who use computers and digital devices on a regular basis experience symptoms of digital eye strain, which is also called computer eye strain or computer vision syndrome. 

The technology used in computer screens can be problematic, with some users sensitive to pulse width modulation (PWM), excessive brightness, and colour saturation. Slow PWM can cause eye strain due to screen flicker, small or bright screens can lead to focusing problems, and too many blues and cool colours can affect sleep patterns. If you struggle with any of these issues, there are solutions. Monitors with fast undetectable PWM are available on the market, as are monitors that use the alternative method of direct current control. Brightness and colour issues can also be easily managed, with most modern computers and devices allowing you to alter brightness along with the cool-warm colour spectrum.

While the technology used in computer monitors and mobile phone screens can cause problems for some people, the habits we form around screen use are the real cause of most eye complaints. Digital eye strain is mostly the result of too much time staring at screens and not enough breaks. While our eyesight evolved jumping between different areas and lengths of focus, modern people often spend the majority of their day focusing on the same distance. In order to reduce focusing fatigue, you should look away from your computer every 10-20 minutes and gaze at objects at various distances.

Along with taking frequent breaks and mixing up your focus, you should also spend some time setting up your work area and operating system. Use proper lighting, upgrade your monitor, and position your monitor level with or just below your eyes. Along with changing the screen brightness and colour temperature, you can also adjust the font size and overall resolution. Lifestyle factors can also have a positive effect on your eye health, so drink lots of water, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly to compensate for the sedentary effects of the modern screen age.