What You Should Know About Digital Eye Strain

I’m going to be transparent here and admit that I am probably looking at a screen for a minimum of 10 hours a day. I would say that most days, I am probably looking at a TV, phone, or computer for 12 hours out of my entire day. This has wreaked havoc on my eyesight.

Digital eye strain, also referred to as computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a set of problems with your vision or your eyes that are a result of focusing too long on a screen. What happens is that your eye muscles are unable to adjust due to the long periods of time it has to maintain focus on a close object.

To put this in perspective, think about this example. When I was in high school we had to do pullups for Physical Education class. One of the alternatives to doing pull-ups was having to hold your arms at a 90-degree angle and keep it in that position for a set amount of time. If you did this for 30 seconds, it’s one thing, but if you did this for 8 hours, then imagine how uncooperative your muscles and arms would feel like if you had to flex your arms in or out. This is similar to how your eye muscles feel.

Focusing your eyes in and out and on variable forms of light will help relax and contract your eye muscles. This gives them a healthy exercise regimen. But don’t take all this information from me, look at what the American Optometric Association has to say.

A Common Misconception

A common misconception is that sitting to close to the TV is Really Bad for Your Eyes. According to a study on Harvard, it states that in the 1960s and 70s this may have been true because TVs in the past emitted an energy that was too strong. But today, there’s nothing coming out the screen that’s hurting you. They say watching TV for too long “won’t generally lead to computer vision syndrome, since you’re using your distance vision for viewing”. Don’t tell your mom that I said all this though. She’ll tell you not to read the rest below.


Common symptoms for digital eye strain include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes

Ways to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Use the 20-20-20 Rule

According to Downtown Eyes, the 20-20-20 rule is to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away. Seems pretty simple and straightforward to remember. If you need help remembering then setup a time on your phone, smart assistant “Hey Alexa”, or set up a recurring timer on your computer. It’s probably a healthy thing anyway to get up and move around for your bodily health anyway.

Computer Glasses

You can talk to your eye doctor about prescribing computer eyeglasses. I am not sure about the validity of the eyeglasses you can buy on Amazon, but I’d say some of them are worth a try.

Use the Blue Light Filter

Many cell phones nowadays have a blue light filter that can be activated to reduce the blue lights being emitted from your cell phones. These blue light filters are said to reduce digital eye strain so your eyes won’t feel so tired by the end of the day. Digital Trends has an article that walks you through how to get it setup on your phone.

Adjust your Workstation

The National Library of Medicine recommends that you set your screen a distance of 35-40 inches from the eyes and then put it about 5-6 inches below eye level.

Upgrade Your Computer Screen

Older CRT screen monitors have flickering that can cause strain. Also, smaller monitors force you to sit closer than the 35-inch recommendation. Many people spend hundreds and some even thousands of dollars on eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. So spend just a couple hundred dollars on a monitor that will last years and help you keep your eyes healthy.

Remember to Blink More

Dry eyes can lead to degeneration and blurry vision. I know it’s hard to remind yourself to blink, but maybe subconsciously as you think about it, it can create a habit or create some awareness about blinking more often.

Move Your Eyes Around

Take your eyes away from your desk and phone every few minutes. The 20-20-20 rule is great, but maybe try to remember to move your eyes away when you are trying to think about something, or when you are talking on your office phone.

Use Better Lighting

Glare and reflections can cause eye strain. Make sure that you have proper lighting that is not causing too many reflections on your monitor. Also, make sure that you have proper lighting around so that it is not too dark to read. There are screens that you can place over your monitor that cost about $10 that help you reduce glare.

Look at Your Screen Less

Yes. This is an obvious solution to the problem, but I think we could all use a little less phones, texting, browsing, and social media. I go for about a 25-minute walk every day, and I try to not take out my phone if I don’t have to. I noticed over the past 2 years my eyes have really degraded, so I make it a point to look around and at multiple focal points to exercise my eyes.


Make sure that you get checked by your eye doctor if your vision is getting worse. It could be something a little more than just digital eye strain. Alliance offers Vision Insurance and can shop rates for you. Contact us today to get a live quote.

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