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Shining Light on Identifying Digital Eye Strain

As screen time has increased, so have the number of people experiencing eye discomfort.With the increase in accessibility and usage of digital devices, there has also been an increase in concern. What effects are they having on the body? Is this affecting children’s mental development? What are the long-term implications of this much screen time? While these questions cannot be definitively answered yet, progress has been made in identifying common issues and complaints.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

The eyes are one of the areas most affected by screen time. Common complaints associated with long hours spent on devices include tired eyes, eye strain, dryness, irritation, and blurred vision. Other complaints include headaches and shoulder, neck and back pain. This group of symptoms has come to be recognized as computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain is defined by the American Optometric Association as “a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.”

New Research on Causes & Identification of Digital Eye Strain

When it comes to screens, lighting and glare have been proven to have an impact on eye strain.

There are many contributing factors to digital eye strain, including lighting, glare, blinking, screen brightness, and environment. Review of Optometry reviewed a recent study that investigated the role lighting and glare played in causing tired, strained eyes. This new research added to existing evidence stating that a glare-free display with uniform lighting is best for mitigating discomfort, but it also tested a new way of identifying patients with digital eye strain: critical fusion frequency. Though not a true diagnostic exam, it’s a good indicator of who may be suffering from digital eye strain.

How Can We Help Patients Reduce Their Discomfort?

There are several ways to reduce the effects of screen time on the eyes. However, if patients want to reduce screen time, there are suggestions to help them achieve this, as well. For children, there could be a more natural defense against the harmful effects of screen time.