What Is Digital Eye Strain: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

What Is Digital Eye Strain: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Posted on September 27th, 2023

In today's digitally-driven world, it's not uncommon for many of us to spend several hours a day glued to screens, whether for work, leisure, or social connections. 

With the convenience of technology at our fingertips, digital devices have become an integral part of our daily routines. 

However, as with most conveniences, there's a flip side. While we enjoy the myriad benefits of the digital age, our eyes are silently bearing the brunt of this screen-intensive lifestyle. 

There's been a notable rise in individuals experiencing discomfort and visual disturbances related to prolonged screen usage, often termed "digital eye strain." 

Living in this tech-centric era, understanding the effects of continuous digital screen exposure on our eyes is more crucial than ever. Not only for our comfort but for maintaining optimal eye health. With this backdrop, our goal is to shed light on what digital eye strain truly is, its symptoms, and how to prevent it.

Understanding Digital Eye Strain

Digital eye strain, often referred to as computer vision syndrome, is a real and increasing concern in today's world. As the reliance on digital screens continues to grow, so does the number of people affected by this condition. But what is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain is the discomfort felt by individuals after two or more hours of using digital devices. This could be your smartphone, tablet, e-reader, or computer monitor. It's an umbrella term that encompasses a range of ocular and visual symptoms experienced due to prolonged screen usage.

Prevalence in Today's Digital Age

It's estimated that a staggering 60% of adults spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device. With such extensive exposure, it's no surprise that a significant percentage of these individuals experience some form of digital eye strain symptoms. The impact is not limited to adults alone; even children, with their increasing screen time for both learning and leisure, are not immune to its effects.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

The symptoms of digital eye strain can vary widely among individuals but tend to share common threads that tie them to our screen usage. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step towards proactive eye care and ensuring our digital habits don't take a toll on our vision. What, then, are these digital eye strain symptoms that one should be vigilant about?

Common Symptoms

Symptoms can range from the mildly annoying to more debilitating ones, affecting one's daily activities. Common manifestations include:

  • Dry, itchy, or red eyes.

  • Blurred or double vision.

  • Difficulty focusing.

  • Headaches, often felt behind the eyes.

  • Increased sensitivity to light.

  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back, which stems from poor posture during prolonged device usage.

Severity and Duration

While some may brush these symptoms off as mere fatigue, it's essential to note that the discomfort can intensify and persist for longer durations if not addressed. Ignoring or overlooking them might lead to more chronic visual and postural problems in the future.

Typical Causes of Digital Eye Strain

To effectively combat and prevent digital eye strain, understanding its root causes is paramount. Knowing why it happens empowers us to make informed decisions about our digital usage. So, what are the primary causes of digital eye strain?

Prolonged Screen Time

Continuous viewing of digital screens demands a lot from our eyes. The screen's pixelated nature requires our eyes to focus and refocus repeatedly, leading to fatigue over time.

Blue Light Emission

Digital devices emit blue light, which, at high levels, can cause discomfort. While the jury is still out on the long-term effects of blue light on our vision, its immediate impact on comfort is undeniable.

Improper Workspace Ergonomics

A screen positioned too high, too low, or at an inappropriate distance can strain the eyes. Furthermore, if the screen is brighter or darker than the surrounding ambient light, it forces our eyes to work harder to adjust.

Blink Rate Reduction

It's observed that while engrossed in digital screens, individuals tend to blink less frequently. This reduced blink rate can lead to dryness and irritation as the eyes aren't getting the regular moisture they need.

Other External Factors

Environmental conditions, like poor lighting, glare, or even air quality, can exacerbate the symptoms of digital eye strain. Likewise, pre-existing vision problems or the wrong prescription glasses can also intensify the strain.

How to Prevent and Reduce Digital Eye Strain

Armed with knowledge about the causes and symptoms, we are better positioned to tackle digital eye strain head-on. Prevention is always better than cure, and there are several effective strategies one can adopt to stave off the ill effects of prolonged screen usage. So, how can you prevent or reduce digital eye strain?

Optimize Screen Settings

Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size to make reading comfortable for your eyes. Ensure the screen resolution is set to the highest possible setting for clearer images and text.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule

This simple rule suggests that every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus on something 20 feet away. It gives your eyes a much-needed rest and reduces fatigue.

Use Blue Light-Blocking Lenses

If you're spending significant hours on digital devices, consider getting glasses with blue light-blocking lenses. They reduce the amount of blue light entering your eyes, alleviating strain. At Davich Optical, we offer a range of these specialized lenses tailor-made for digital device users.

Ensure Proper Ergonomics

Position your screen so that the top is at or just below eye level. It should be about an arm's length away. Adjust your chair and desk to maintain a proper posture, reducing strain not just on your eyes but also on your back and neck.

Minimize Glare

Use matte screen protectors or invest in anti-reflective lenses to cut down the glare from screens and overhead lighting. Ensure adequate ambient lighting in the room to reduce the contrast between the screen and the surroundings.

Stay Hydrated and Blink Often

Keeping yourself hydrated helps maintain moisture in the eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink frequently to refresh the eyes and prevent dryness.

Benefits of Regular Eye Check-ups

While self-help strategies can significantly alleviate digital eye strain, regular professional eye exams play a crucial role in holistic eye care. Why are these check-ups vital, especially in the age of rampant screen usage?

Early Detection of Issues

An eye exam can identify early signs of digital eye strain and other vision-related problems. This proactive approach ensures timely intervention, preventing potential complications down the line.

Personalized Recommendations

Every individual's eyes are unique. An optometrist can provide bespoke advice based on your eye health, digital habits, and specific needs.

Accurate Prescription Updates

Using outdated prescription glasses or contact lenses can intensify eye strain. Regular check-ups ensure you have the correct prescription, offering optimal vision and comfort.

Professional Guidance on Protective Eyewear

With the surge in digital device usage, there's a plethora of protective eyewear options available. An eye specialist can guide you to the best choices, like blue light-blocking lenses, tailored to your needs. At Davich Optical, our team is always on hand to provide guidance on the latest in eye care technology.


In the modern age, our reliance on digital devices is undeniable. While these tools offer countless conveniences, they also bring with them challenges, notably digital eye strain. This condition, characterized by a range of discomforting symptoms, is a testament to the silent toll our screens are taking on our vision. 

However, armed with knowledge and awareness, we can navigate the digital realm with minimal strain on our eyes. By recognizing symptoms early, optimizing our digital habits, and embracing preventive measures, we can continue to benefit from technology without compromising our eye health. 

Regular eye check-ups are an invaluable tool in this endeavor, ensuring we remain ahead of potential eye issues. As we wrap up our discussion, it's essential to remember that our eyes are irreplaceable. Prioritizing their health is not just a necessity but a responsibility. For any concerns or guidance on tackling digital eye strain, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Davich Optical at (213) 386 6177 or [email protected]

Your eyes matter, today and always.

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