How to prevent eye strain from screen usage

What screens are doing to our eyes and what we can do to help them

Modern life and our eyes

Screens are everywhere and we love them- why wouldn’t we? A simple tap can unlock adventure, a swipe can introduce you to a new friend, a scroll can have you in fits of laughter and a zoom can let you discover somewhere new. Yes, modern life is great, but our eyes might disagree, as all that time spent on our devices can negatively affect the by causing eye strain or dry eyes. Even when we try and step away, it’s not long before we’re sucked back into the world of screens. Phones, laptops, tablets, e-readers, gaming- we’re watching more screens than ever before, it’s relentless. Our eyes never really get a break, making them feel dry and uncomfortable. And it’s no wonder when you take a look at the stats:

  • 77% of British adults say they spend more time looking at screens now than they did five years ago.
  • The average internet user is estimated to spend 25 hours online, each week.


Something doesn't add up

  • 60% of people rank their eyes as the part of their body they place the most importance on when it comes to their health, but we’re not doing more to protect them.
  • 70% of us report having experienced symptoms when looking at screens for a long period of time, but more than half of those asked say that they have not previously taken measures to prevent the impact of screens on their eyes.


Why do you get eye strain or dry eyes after looking at screens?

Eye problems from continuously staring at screens are also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), which affects 60 million people globally. It can impact people’s everyday life with symptoms including eye strain, headaches and dry eye.

When staring at a screen, you blink 60% less and therefore reduces the spread of tears across your eye, leading to damage of the protective layer over the eye. This causes dry eye causing them to feel irritated and uncomfortable. Usually affecting both eyes together, the symptoms often worsen as the day goes on if not treated.

It’s not only adults that can be affected by screens as children are now using computers, video games, mobiles as much as some adults. These symptoms could be worse in children as they don't tend to think about how they can prevent eye strain, or even know if they are suffering from screen related eye symptoms. Consider seeking advice from your pharmacist if you feel this could be affecting your child.


How to prevent eye strain and dry eyes

  • Regularly look at objects in the distance, such as out of the window, for a period of ten seconds.
  • Take multiple mini-breaks of 5 minutes away from your desk throughout your working day.
  • Adjust the brightness of your screen, so it is similar to the lighting of your surroundings. Adequate lighting will help to reduce the light reflecting off your computer screen that can cause eye strain.
  • Minimise glare by installing an anti-glare.
  • When working long hours, write a post-it reminder telling you to blink.
  • Turn down the heating or aircon, to avoid drying your eyes out.

Try to find other ways to reduce screen time, even if it’s taking breaks at lunchtime away from your computer and mobile or switch off devices earlier in the evenings to help prevent eye strain.


Reducing the likelihood of screen eye

57% of people agree that they spend too much time looking at screens but this doesn’t stop them from looking at screens for an extended period of time. Try incorporating 30-60mins a day of screen abstinence, perhaps before bed. This may be a difficult task at first, as new habits take time to build. You can also keep your eyes refreshed with Optrex ActiMist 2in1 Eye Spray for Dry and Irritated eyes. It's been designed to rebalance your eyes natural moisture with your blink. Just spray directly onto closed eyelids, for it to work with your blink to instantly relieve dry eyes*. Then you can get back to your daily activities, knowing your eyes are better equipped.


Learn about ‘Screen Eyes’

What happens when you don’t take the necessary precautions in helping protect your eyes whilst watching screens? You could end up with ‘Screen Eyes’. Find out if you suffer from screen eyes and what to do about it


*Dry and irritated eyes due to disturbed lipid layer of the tear film, approximately 80% of dry eye cases