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Digital Eye Strain

Digital Eye Strain

A By-Product of Our Increasing Use of Smartphones & Computers, Digital Eye Strain is Something Most Calgarians Will Experience at Some Point This Year

Rates of Digital Eye Strain Are Increasing

Our eyes are incredible organs and are the result of thousands of years of refinement and evolution. Electronic displays are a technology less than 100 years old, and only in the last 15 years has the technology become so pervasive in our society. In other words, our eyes simply aren’t equipped to deal with this type of stimulus.

You might not think that looking at your smartphone hundreds of times per day for a minute or two a pop is a big deal, but consider that the brightness, colour intensity, and vibrancy of the display are things our eyes are just now being exposed to. This is why rates of digital eye strain are increasing.

The eye has an ideal focal point, where the things we are looking at not only look the sharpest but also require minimal effort from the eyes to focus. For most people, the ideal focal point is approximately 80cm / 31 inches away from our eyes. In other words, the ideal position for your computer screens or smartphone is about 3 standard rulers distance away from your face (or, roughly 1.5 your arm’s length).

The fact is that you can’t even use a smartphone from the distance best suited for optimal vision. This gap in our biology in comparison to our technology highlights why digital eye strain has become so pervasive.

That number is likely to climb higher next year as more devices are released with digital displays. Smartphones, tablets, e-readers, smartwatches… the list of problematic hardware continues to increase.

However, despite the prevalence of digital eye strain in our society, we have adequate tools and technologies to treat the symptoms of digital eye strain and to reduce discomfort associated. That’s where we can help.

Digital eye strain is becoming increasingly common in our society as we continue to adopt new technologies and make vibrant digital displays better and less expensive. High-energy light (HEL), which is light that exists near the ultraviolet spectrum (mostly shades of blue/purple) is glaring for our eyes and can actually damage them.

The effects on blue light on our sleep cycles are fairly well studied, and further studies are currently being done on how HEL affects our eyes physically.

Computer glasses have two main functions:

  • Make it easier to see the screen clearly. This is usually done via a specially designated corrective prescription for your viewing distance to the screen.
  • Filter out HEL. Using a blue-light filter, certain (but not all) wavelengths of blue light are filtered by the lens. This greatly reduces the impact HEL has on your eyes.

Diagnosing & Treating Digital Eye Strain

Symptoms & signs to look for

Digital eye strain has varied symptoms, and it isn’t always obvious that eye strain is the cause. If you find the symptoms below occur even semi-frequently we recommend you visit us for an assessment- digital eye strain may be to blame.

  • A general feeling of fatigue, especially from your eyes, shoulder, and neck muscles
  • Increased tear production (watery eyes)
  • Headaches, either from tension or from excessive concentration
  • Inability to focus both visually and mentally
  • Easily distracted while working
  • Blurred or hazy vision (usually in conjunction with a feeling of fatigue)

While we encourage anyone who wants assistance in relieving their symptoms to speak to one of our Optometrists, know that you can successfully relieve symptoms (in most cases) from home. Try these:

  • Modify your work schedule so that you are not sitting down for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer. Make a point to have time away from your workspace, where your eyes can take in other things that aren’t backlit.
  • Adjust your workstation so that your screens are at least 80cm away from your eyes. This will lessen strain and allow your eyes to stay focused on the screens for longer periods at a time.
  • Ensure your environment is well lit. The screen, be it a smartphone or computer screen, should not be the brightest thing in the room. Increasing ambient lighting will greatly reduce strain.
  • Try software that modifies the colour balance of your screen to filter out high-energy light (HEL, aka, blue light). You can find this software (such as f.lux) for PC’s, Mac’s, and smartphones. This software will greatly relieve eye strain, especially at night.

Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It could be something as simple as gazing out the window for a while. This brief respite relaxes the focusing muscles of the eye, helping stave off symptoms of strain.

Persistent cases of digital eye strain may warrant assistance from one of our Optometrists. We will carefully examine your eyes1 (as needed) and provide treatments that will target your symptoms. These treatments may come in the form of non-medicated eye drops, compresses, medicated eye drops, oral supplements, or oral medications.

We will carefully explain our recommended treatment, what it solves, and what you can expect from it.

Our Locations

We have three full-service locations in Downtown Calgary, Lake Bonavista and Huntington Hills.

Calgary Downtown

  • Monday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Tuesday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Thursday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Friday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Saturday Closed
  • Sunday Closed

Lake Bonavista

  • Monday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Tuesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Wednesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Thursday 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM*
  • Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Saturday 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday Closed
  • *Note: This office is closed daily for lunch from 12 pm – 1 pm

Huntington Hills

  • Monday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Tuesday 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM*
  • Wednesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Thursday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Saturday 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday Closed
  • *Note: This office is closed daily for lunch from 12 pm – 1 pm
  • Monday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Tuesday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Thursday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Friday 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Saturday Closed
  • Sunday Closed
  • Monday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Tuesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Wednesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Thursday 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM*
  • Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Saturday 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday Closed
  • Monday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Tuesday 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM*
  • Wednesday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Thursday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM*
  • Saturday 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Sunday Closed
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