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Digital Eye Strain (DES)

In the last two decades we have been using desktop and laptop computer screens of sizes between 14 inches to 21 inches and at an approximate distance of an arm’s length which is called as intermediate reading distance which is longer than our traditional book reading distance. This new visual activity has been known to cause eye strain symptoms called as Computer Vision Syndrome: In recent times in addition to traditional computer screens we have started using various digital devices like iPads, tablets, cellphones, digital books like Kindle, etc. These screens are smaller and need to be kept at a closer distance than the traditional computer screen and have become a daily, integral part of our lives. We’re constantly texting, researching, working, and goofing around on our smartphones According to various studies on usage of digital devices, on an average an individual spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen or digital device every day. This prolonged exposure to digital devices prompts uncomfortable consequences and side effects. The American Optometric Association estimates that over 50% of computer users suffer symptoms of Digital Eye Strain including the earlier version of Computer Vision Syndrome which, quite literally, feels like eye strain, eye discomfort, and eye fatigue.

What are the symptoms of DES?
Most common symptoms of DES include eye and vision problems, such as:
• Eye fatigue / eye exhaustion / tired eyes
• Eye strain
• Eye discomfort
• Headaches
• Eye ache
• Dry eyes / itchy eyes / irritated eyes
• Blurry vision / double vision
• Neck pain / shoulder pain / back pain

Digital Eye Strain

What causes DES?
Our eye muscles never evolved to stare at screens or digital devices for long periods of time. Given that computers and LED screens are a relatively new invention, it would be lifetimes before our eyes develop to handle digital gadget use without the stresses and strain we feel today.

Four of the main culprits behind Digital Eye Strain are Blue Light, glare, ciliary muscle fatigue and low or half blink rate leading to dry eyes.

Blue Light: is the high energy light that digital devices and LED lights emit. Blue Light sits at the end of the visible light spectrum, right next to UV light. Its short wavelength, which is inversely correlated to energy level (meaning the shorter the wavelength and lower the frequency, the higher the energy), enables that high energy to stress the ciliary muscle in the eye. Blue Light's nickname is HEV light (high-energy visible light) for a reason! In addition, Blue Light has some other negative effects. Blue Light also suppresses our melatonin secretion, which helps us fall asleep at night. Using digital devices at night can, therefore, lead to it being harder to fall asleep at night or poorer sleep quality. Also, there are studies in animal and stem cell models that show a correlation between overexposure to Blue Light and retina damage, most specifically what appears to akin to age-related macular degeneration. This could make sense knowing that UV light is known to damage our skin and cornea, which is why we wear sunblock and UV coated sunglasses to protect ourselves.

Glare: The second culprit of Computer Vision Syndrome and Digital Eye Strain, stresses the ciliary muscle in the eye and cause issues like dry, strained eyes and headaches. We don't just experience glare from our screens, though. Some people are particularly sensitive to glare from oncoming car lights while driving at night, for example. That's where our anti-glare coating (or anti-reflective, AR coating) comes into play. Regardless of your prescription, all of our lenses at REZ come with a standard AR coating that eliminates close to 99% of glare from entering our eyes from both digital screens and the world around us.

Ciliary Muscle Fatigue:  is the third reason for DES. A common issue is that our eyes were never designed to stare at any object up close, electronic device or otherwise, for long periods at a time. Our eyes are naturally at rest position when staring 20 feet away. Looking at something like a phone, tablet, or computer, which is generally 18-24 inches away from us, creates stress on the eye. Most specifically, it causes the ciliary muscles in our eye to spasm back and forth to adjust to this close proximity viewing. This contributes to symptoms like eye fatigue, blurry vision, and headaches as well.

Reduced blink rate:  is the fourth reason for DES symptoms. Often, we’re so absorbed with what we’re doing with our digital devices that we forget to blink as much. Blinking prevents our eyes from drying out. Thus, dry or itchy eyes can often be attributed to less blinking.

Posture and positioning of devices is another factor for DES symptoms: We often hunch over our digital devices, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. We also position our devices in inconvenient, problematic ways, which further hurts our posture by forcing us to sit in awkward positions. These are easy problems to fix by simply changing your desk setup and posture!

Digital Eye Strain

Solutions to reduce Digital Eye Strain
Digital Eye Strain leads to less productive, comfortable, and efficient work days and screen time. Luckily, there are many solutions and eye strain treatments available as under:

Blue Block eyeglasses: Blue light is of two types – harmful and helpful. The harmful one causes DES and the helpful one is necessary for good vision. To filter the harmful wavelengths of blue spectrum of light there are two types of filter options available. One is a blue light filtering coating on the lens surface which is comparatively less effective as they don’t target the highest energy wavelengths of Blue Light. They also can chip or peel off, which defeats the purpose of Blue Light filtering computer eyewear. At Rivoli EyeZone, we have specially designed lenses to absorb Blue Light while remaining virtually clear. We do so by taking a naturally occurring Blue Light filtering ocular pigment and combining it with our lens material and whitening components. Through this method, we’ve created a lens that is the perfect balance between clear and effective. We then apply a premium AR coat on top to eliminate glare. These lenses are called Blue Block lenses and are available at all our Rivoli EyeZone stores.

The 20-20-20 rule: This is the one of the first defense against DES and is widely recommended by Vision Care Experts. It’s pretty simple: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This reduces stress on your eye and can combat the negative effects of digital devices.

Anti-Reflection Coated Lenses: At Rivoli EyeZone, we have the best quality anti- reflection and anti-glare coatings on all our lens variants which eliminates close to 99% of glare from entering our eyes from both digital screens and the world around us.

Eye drops: A reduced blink rate dries out our eyes, which contributes to digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome. Using lubricating eye drops or artificial tears will keep your eyes moist and can help mitigate uncomfortable effects, including dry or itchy eyes.

The proper work station:  It's important that your computer is set up at the proper work distance. You should be sitting in a good chair with a back rest or using a standing desk to ensure upright posture. Avoid slouching forward while using the computer and avoid odd postures while using digital gadgets. High-resolution monitors help us avoid squinting, as does proper lighting. Keep in mind that if everything else around your environment is dark, then you'll only further strain your eyes! Adjust the brightness of the display so it's approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this Web page. If it looks like a light source, it's too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort, though other dark-on-light combinations also work well.

Eye examinations: Periodic eye examinations from a qualified and experienced eye care practitioner is always recommended. At Rivoli EyeZone all our Vision Care Experts are qualified, well trained and experienced to give you a comprehensive eye exam with world class eye testing equipment at our Vision Care Clinics in the Rivoli EyeZone stores.