How To Avoid Debilitating Digital Eye Strain

Written by Angelica

Last updated Mar 25, 2022

Digital eye strain is likely something that all PC gamers have encountered. The symptoms involve red or tearing eyes, itching, and even trouble focusing. You’re probably familiar with all the above, depending on how much time you spend gaming. Though, even those that work on computers are not free of the unpleasant malady.

Not to worry, though, there are steps that may not only treat the symptoms but also avoid them occurring again in the future.

A Common Affliction

First and foremost, digital eye strain is more common than it’s ever been. This stands to reason, given how many make their living and enjoy entertainment online. Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms don’t only occur in the elderly. Eyestrain is as common in adults as it is in children, with the only factor being how much time goes into staring at a screen. So, if you’ve been struggling, it isn’t a sign of old age. It’s just a sign that you need to make some changes, and perhaps see an optometrist.

How Bad Can It Get?

The short answer is that digital eye strain is no joke. From itching to eye fatigue, to constant distracting tearing, it’s no fun. And in severe cases, blurred and double vision can be all but incapacitating. There are even reports of severe headaches accompanied by neck and shoulder pain, though this is more related to viewing monitors at improper angles. Importantly, you may mistake symptoms like severe headaches for something unrelated to screen habits. This is exactly what makes eye strain such a growing concern in the modern world.

It is important to keep in mind that eye strain symptoms will generally be directly proportionate to the amount of time spent looking at a monitor.

What Causes Digital Eye Strain?

You might have already noted that you can spend hours reading without a problem, only to spend half an hour looking at a game and immediately start feeling the strain. The truth is that digital screens are not always properly suited for human eyes. It doesn’t matter if the monitor is 4K or 1080p; it isn’t the resolution that causes the problem. So, don’t go running out dropping a fortune on an expensive monitor thinking it will be a solution. It won’t.

Eyestrain results from improper lighting, a monitor viewed at the incorrect angle, bad posture, degraded eyesight, screen glare, or a combination of these. The problem gets dramatically worse with improper eyeglasses, contact lenses or underlying issues with dry eye.

Contributing Factors

The biggest contributing factor to digital eye strain is often undiagnosed problems with vision, as well as improper correctional eyeglasses. It goes without saying that regular trips to the optometrist are essential, especially if you spend a great deal of time staring at screens.

Dry eye, on the other hand, is often overlooked. It might not seem like a serious problem, but it can be very distracting and annoying. Especially if you’re trying to be productive.

Dry eye syndrome is generally made worse by digital screens but is possibly due to other unrelated issues. Various medicines and other health conditions may contribute to the problem. Thyroid and some autoimmune diseases, for example, often have the side effect of eyes unnaturally failing to produce moisture.

Making Simple Changes

The upside is that it often isn’t very difficult to fix the situation. You might have feared that a costly trip to the doctor is in order, but there are a few quick fixes that may solve the problem.

The first and most obvious factor to take into account is fixing the environment. A primary culprit is bad lighting; a problem fixed with minimal effort. PC gamers like to bathe their gaming space in dim mood lighting, which is exactly the wrong approach. Simply turning on lights or opening the curtains may just be an instant fix.

A PC monitor must be an arm’s length away from your face, with the middle of the picture 5 inches below eye level. Also, be sure to fix your chair height and avoid slouching. Both feet should be able to sit comfortably on the floor.

Anti-glare filters are generally frowned on in PC gaming communities given that they unquestionably mute the quality of the image. This is understandable, and the good news is that manually adjusting picture brightness may solve the problem.

Obviously, it’s also a good idea to take a 15-minute break from gaming every 2 hours. During your break, allow your eyes to focus on distances of about 20 feet while blinking rapidly. Remember to stay hydrated, as this will help with dry eyes, too.

Advanced Fixes

If the above doesn’t help, it’s time to take the problem more seriously.

First on the list is heading to the optometrist. It’s possible to not even realize that you have degraded vision, which is a fairly serious problem. Digital eye strain may be the least of your worries in this case. But even if you get glasses, all the rest of the tips obviously still apply.

If problems persist, consider getting lubrication drops. They are available over the counter and are fairly cheap. In extreme cases, consider medication that helps with the production of tears.

Take Eye-Friendly Action

Digital eye strain is no joke and it will get progressively worse over time. The problem is normally solved simply by making basic changes to your gaming or work environment. Better lighting is a big factor, as well as the position of the monitor. Simply put, being too close to a screen is a major cause of eye strain and can even trigger a migraine. Regular breaks are extremely necessary. Take a break for at least 15 minutes per 2 hours of gaming. Use the break to let your eyes rest and be sure to drink plenty of water.

If all else fails, it’s time you headed to an eye specialist. You may need glasses or contacts to strengthen your vision. Above all else, don’t ignore the problem. Digital eye strain is a common affliction, but it’s not one you have to suffer from.

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