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What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is the most common computer-related repetitive strain injury and is as prevalent as computers themselves.  It is estimated that nowadays, we spend an average of six hours per day looking at one digital screen or another, and that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend 17.5 hours more at a screen than children did during the 1990s.  This means that we are seriously increasing our risk of CVS although ironically, less than 1 in 5 people have heard of the condition.

Digital Eye Strain


There are wide ranging symptoms but the most common include:

  • Red and sore eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck and back pain
  • Fatigue


Digital eye strain is caused by the overuse of digital media such as computers, televisions, smartphones, and tablets for prolonged periods of time, and is the result of the eyes having to continuously refocus themselves in order to process graphics and text.  Screens, made up of millions of tiny pixels put together to make a recognisable shape, often become distorted and causes strain for eyes.  This strain can cause headaches, neck pain, and fatigue.

Moreover, staring at a screen can result in a decreased blinking rate, which can cause uncomfortable and unpleasant dry eyes.  The purpose of blinking is to create moisture for the eyes and on average, we blink around 18 times per minute.  When using a computer screen or the like, this rate drops to around 9 times per minute, meaning that our eyes don’t get as much moisture as they need.


The best and quickest way to help prevent and overcome CVS is by following the 20-20-20 rule.  It’s simple – every 20 minutes, take a break for 20 seconds, and look at something that is 20 feet away.  By doing this, you will give your eyes a break from the strain and allow them to refocus.

It’s also important to ensure that your environment caters to good eye-health.  This means dimming any overhead lights, sitting upright with the screen 20-26 inches away from you and tilted slightly backwards.  Make sure you enlarge the text to a size that you are comfortable with and adjust the contrast and brightness of your screen accordingly.

Staying hydrated will help with dry eyes, so make sure you drink at least 1.2 litres of water every day.  Keeping plants in your room may also help with dry eye, as they release moisture into the air.  Likewise, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, filled with foods such as carrots, eggs, blueberries, and tomatoes, will help to keep your eyes in the best possible state and thus, better able to ward off CVS.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

  1. Debbie Downes 16/02/2016 at 20:59

    I’m interested in finding out about eye surgery for short sight and as I get older, near sight.

    • Bethany Kingsley 18/02/2016 at 11:43

      Hi Debbie,
      Sure, we can go through some information with you over the phone, or send you out our UK Guide to laser eye surgery. This has a lot of useful information regarding what happens as presbyopia sets in. We perform a procedure at the London Vision Clinic called Laser Blended Vision. This corrects on eye for up close and intermediate, and the other eye for intermediate and distance. The brain learns to put the two images together, giving you a clear image for both up close and distance.
      Please give us a call on 02072241005 or email with your details and we will get in touch.

      We look forward to hearing from you,

      London Vision Clinic

  2. Harvey Lee 17/08/2017 at 11:22

    Eye strain is a common problem today. It can happen for a number of reasons. After working on computer whole day my eyes feels so tired. These tips are very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing.

  3. andy 26/09/2019 at 21:41

    can laser be performed again after full lasik to get blended vision for a 49 year old?

    • Chloe Lay 11/11/2019 at 10:06

      Hi Andy,
      An enhancement procedure that you are describing is quite common, however, without seeing your eyes, we cannot comment as to whether this would be an option for you at this stage. If you are keen to find out more, you can call us on 0202 7224 1005.
      Kind Regards,
      London Vision Clinic

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