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Digital Eye Strain Could be to Blame for Your Headaches
Wondering why you have frequent headaches? Although headaches occur for many reasons, eyestrain could be the reason for your pain if you use digital devices often. Viewing digital screens for just two consecutive hours increases the risk of digital eye strain, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).
What Is Eye Strain?
Reading, playing games, texting, or working on your laptop for long periods of time takes a toll on your eyes. When your eyes get tired, you may notice that they hurt or feel dry or itchy. Tearing, redness, and neck and shoulder pain can also occur due to eyestrain.
Digital eye strain, also called computer vision syndrome, has become increasingly common due to our reliance on screens. As many as 50% of computer users suffer from digital eye strain, according to an open access article in BMJ Open Ophthalmology.
How Digital Screens Cause Headaches
Your eyes must work harder when viewing images or words on a digital screen. Over time, they become fatigued. The muscles that control eye movements soon become sore, triggering a headache. At the same time, the muscles in your neck or shoulders tighten, which only makes your headache feel worse.
The AOA notes that digital eyestrain symptoms can be caused by:
Other factors that can cause digital eyestrain include imbalances in the muscles that control your eyes, glare, sitting too far or close to the computer, or undiagnosed eye problems. Your blink rate could also play a role in digital eyestrain. When you blink, a film of tears coats your eyes, keeping them moist. Blinking tends to decrease when using screens or can be incomplete, causing dry eye. Reminding yourself to blink more often and taking short breaks every 20 minutes will reduce dry eye symptoms. During breaks, look at an object about 20' in the distance for at least 20 seconds.
Vision Problems That Can Cause Digital Eyestrain
Digital eye strain can be caused or worsened by wearing an outdated contact lens or eyeglass prescription. Even if your prescription is updated, you may be more likely to suffer from eye strain if you don't have glasses intended specifically for computer use. Computer glasses provide sharp vision at 20" to 30" inches from your eyes, the normal distance for viewing your laptop or desktop monitor.
Several vision conditions can also increase your risk of digital eyestrain, including:
Any vision problem that affects crucial vision skills, like eye teaming, focusing, and tracking, could increase your chances of developing digital eye strain and headaches.
What to Do About Digital Eyestrain
Although frequent breaks, wearing computer glasses, and changing your eyeglass prescription can ease digital eye strain, you may need more help if a vision condition is responsible for your symptoms. Vision therapy, an innovative therapy method that retrains your eyes and improves communication between the brain and the eyes, may offer the ideal option.
Vision therapists use prisms, special lenses, computer games, and activities to correct or improve vision problems that may have gone unnoticed for years. The therapy is effective for both children and adults and can make using digital screens much more comfortable.
Interested in learning how vision therapy can help you? Call our office to schedule a comprehensive vision exam.
American Optometric Association: Computer Vision Syndrome
BMJ Open Ophthalmology: Digital Eye Strain: Prevalence, Measurement and Amelioration
Cleveland Clinic: Eyestrain, 8/6/2019
American Optometric Association: Video-Game Vision Therapy, 2/7/2018