What You Need To Know About Digital Eye Strain

woman lying in bed in a dark room as she looks at her phone

We live in a progressively digital world where our eyes are constantly being used to look at some type of screen. While our lives are now unimaginable without these devices, there is more and more evidence suggesting that this increased screen time has consequences.

Recent studies show that Americans spend more than 11 hours per day interacting with media. This number is up more than nine hours from last year. The average U.S worker spends the majority of their workday using a digital screen. As a result, The American Optometric Association reports that 58% of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems. Depending on your industry, the results can be worse. For example, 90% of digital employees have experienced at least one symptom of digital eye strain.


Digital eye strain is discomfort that is associated with starting at digital devices for too long. Physical symptoms can occur from two or more hours straight of staring at computers, smartphones, television, or gaming systems.


There are many reasons for digital eye strain but most common are the effects of blue light and muscle strain.

Blue Light.

Blue Light is high energy visible light that digital devices emit. Blue light has very short wavelengths, and our eyes tend to be sensitive to the higher amount of energy these waves produce. Studies show that blue light can be damaging to retina cells and lead to long-term eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

closeup of a finger touching a tablet in a dark room

Muscle Strain.

In the past, our eyes weren’t used for staring at electronic devices up close for too long. In today’s digital world, we use our phones and laptops at a very close proximity to our eyes. These devices often use pixelated images or small text which causes our eyes to strain in an attempt to focus. This results in stress for our eye muscles because they must adjust to this close viewing.

a man thoughtfully looks at a lit blank monitor in a dark room
Man in front of a laptop removes his glasses and rubs his eyes


If you’re suffering from Digital Eye Strain, it is likely you’re experiencing the following.

  • Eye fatigue and discomfort
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Red, dry or irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision


The most obvious solution to Digital Eye Strain is to limit screen time. While a clear solution, this is not always feasible. Here are some ways you can lessen this impact on your eyes…

  • Utilize the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to reduce stress on your eyes.
  • Make sure you are blinking enough. Staring at digital devices causes people to blink less, drying out their eyes. Try to blink more often to increase the moisture in your eyes!
  • Increase the font size on your computer and keep distance between the screen and your eyes. You can also adjust the brightness of your screen to decrease the glare.
  • Wear computer glasses! These glasses help your eyes block out blue light and reduce glare that is harmful to your eyes.
Woman on a sunny day.  She is looking over her shoulder while holding her phone