Screen fatigue: How to care for tired eyes

Chances are you’ve got to the end of a long day of working at the computer and felt like using your eyes to look at anything is an effort.

Overall, you feel tired, drained, and like all you want to do is rest. But when you finally do shut them and go to bed, you realise you still have a tonne of energy and can’t sleep a wink.

This is a typical case of screen fatigue: something that, due to the prevalence of screens in our lives, is easily overlooked or passed off as some other thing like “stress” or “working too much”.

Screen fatigue is basically when, due to long periods of looking at a screen without rest, the muscles in and around our eyes get worn out and strained.

One of the reasons for this is that when using screens, our eyes are constantly having to refocus on the tiny pixels that make up elements such as text. There are also other factors such as blue light, glare, and reduced blinking that contribute.

What all of this adds up is a general feeling of strain and fatigue around the eye area, which can also lead to headaches, neck pain, and a general heaviness and tiredness in the body.

Here we’re going to look at a few of the best ways to manage screen fatigue so you can limit its effect on your life and give your eyes the rest they deserve.

The 20/20/20 rule

We’ve mentioned the 20/20/20 rule a few times, but it bears repeating as it is invaluable for protecting your long term eye health.

The idea is, after 20 minutes of screen time, look out the window at a distance of at least 20 feet for at least 20 seconds, and then repeat.

You could think of it as a form of yoga for the eye. When working at a screen, your eyes are constantly adjusting to the pixels and the light in the room. By changing your point of focus, you allow them a chance to rest while also exercising your long-distance vision.

Limit the amount of glare

Whether it comes from the window, an internal light source, or your screen itself, it’s important to limit the amount of glare you’re exposed to so as to reduce the amount of strain you put on your eyes.

The best way to do this is to adjust the lighting in your environment. If you’re working from home, this may mean turning off overhead lights and using lamps, as well as adjusting the brightness of the screen to be about the same as the light in the room.

Blue light

On top of glare, a specific wavelength of light known as blue light is known for further inhibiting the eyes from functioning properly.

Some sources of blue light include smartphones, tablets, computers, and LEDs. Blue light is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths of light, meaning it can create a glaring effect that can lead to eye fatigue, dry eye, and headaches.

The best way to reduce your exposure to blue light is to limit your screen use, particularly before you go to bed. You can also use applications that filter blue light and adjust your device’s brightness settings according to the time of day.

Eye drops

One of the most common effects of looking at a screen for long periods of time is that the eyes begin to dry out.

This can happen for a number of reasons. First, when engaged in vision-intensive tasks such as reading an article or watching a video, we tend to blink much less often. Blinking is the eye’s natural lubrication systems that not only keeps them moist but helps protect them against infection.

Second, when using screens we can often be stuck indoors in dry environments. This further adds to the imbalance in moisture in the eye, leading to ever drier eyes.

Lubricating eye drops are one way to help bring some moisture back to your eye and make them more comfortable. They are not a solution to dry eyes, but rather a way to temporarily ease the symptoms.

Contact lenses

If you use a computer for work and wear contact lenses, then you’re chances of experiencing eye fatigue and dry eye and pretty high.

For many people, however, it’s bearable if it means they don’t have to go back to wearing their glasses. However, there is another alternative that means you can be rid of them both.

Many people who have Laser Eye Surgery find they no longer experience the discomfort they did before when looking at a screen or working at a computer. Not only that, but they no longer have to worry about remembering where they put their glasses or faffing around with the contact hygiene routine.

Eye exercises

Now, we’re not saying you need to exercise your eyes like you do your glutes at the gym every morning. However, bringing some movement and distance into your daily routine can do wonders for your vision.

This can be as simple as focusing on objects at varying distances and at varying angles, several times a day. For instance, try focusing on an object about 10 meters from you, then 20 metres, then 50, then 100 (about a football field’s length). This can help keep active the tiny muscles in the lens of the eye.

To find out more about the Laser Eye Surgery screening process or to book your consultation, leave us a comment or get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators today.