Between smartphones, computers, and TVs, screens play a huge role in people’s everyday lives.
Doctors are finding that Americans are on a computer more than seven hours per day.
Though technology can make people’s lives easier, these devices aren’t easy on the eyes.
"When we look at something up close, and the image is closer…our eyes have to hold the muscle that contracts for a long time - looking at the same object,” said Dr. David Montesanti, a managing partner at Eye Care and Vision Associates. “Easy enough for a few short minutes, but after a while, it becomes fatiguing.”
That strain or fatigue is associated with Computer Vision Syndrome.
Montesanti said it’s a condition caused from looking at screens for a long time, making the cornea’s surface dry out.
"When we are focusing on a task up close, we don't blink as much,” he said. “We don't blink as often per minute. So the less number of blinks per minute, plus a viewing angel that keeps your eyes open more, can cause drying of the eyeballs. This leads to fatigue, redness, irritation and strain.”
Montesanti has some tips.
"One thing we can use is artificial tears, little tear drops that they sell over the counter," Montesanti said. "Every so often, put a tear drop in."
Screens, unlike books or paper, don’t move.
Montesanti said focusing one distance without changing can also develop strain, which is also why some people get headaches.
"We tell our patient to do the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds,” he said. “Every couple hours, take a longer break, about a 15-minute break, so you are no longer focusing on that screen. Start walking around and getting that eye to break its accommodative focus up close.”
If symptoms persist, it's probably best to go see an eye doctor.
"With equipment, we can look at the patient and get a good feel of what's going on and offer the best treatment," Montresanti said.