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Coping With Eyestrain

by on June 15, 2015

In the May 5th issue of American Libraries Direct, Amy-Mae Elliot discusses a topic that is an unavoidable consequence of modern life: eyestrain. Anyone who spends several hours a day on a computer has dealt with it. Elliot says 68% of Millenials have reported suffering from digital eyestrain.[1] However, that’s not the only age group affected. Sixty-three percent of people born between 1965-1980, or Gen X, also experience eyestrain.[2] Businessmen, office workers, students, and of course, librarians will have felt its effects. Unfortunately, eyestrain is hard to avoid, especially if one’s job involves constant computer use. Even when we are away from work, many of us use tablets, laptops, and smartphones. This increases our time spent staring at screens all day. The report Elliot cites says nearly one-third of adults spend 9 or more hours a day using a digital device.[3] And, the top three devices being used are the T.V. (76.6%), smartphone (69.4%), and laptop computer (57.8%).[4] So how can busy people avoid eyestrain?

First, eyestrain results from the blue light emitted by screens, in addition to staring at the glowing display.[5] Staring causes you to blink less, which causes dryness, and the eye struggles to focus.[6] I have often caught myself not blinking unintentionally. According to the Mayo Clinic, eyestrain symptoms include “sore, tired, burning or itching eyes, dry eyes, blurred or double vision, headache, sore neck, and difficulty focusing.”[7] I know my eyes get tired frequently, which means I have to use eye drops and keep them with me. To prevent the problem, the Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Take breaks using the 20-20-20 Rule: “Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds”
  • Remember to blink!
  • Massage your eyelids and the muscles over your brow
  • Use eyedrops: Lubricating drops are best, as drops with redness remover can worsen dry eyes
  • Update your glasses, and look into those that are designed for computer work[8]

Again, it’s difficult to be a Luddite nowadays. At some point, a task will require us to use these devices that wreak havoc on our eyes. But hopefully, these few tips will help you cope with eyestrain and keep your eyes healthy!


[1]Amy-Mae Elliot, “68% of Millenials Report Digital Eyestrain, How to Soothe the Ache,” May 5, 2015, Mashable, http://mashable.com/2015/05/05/digital-eye-strain/

[2] Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protecting Your Eyes From Digital Devices, The Vision Council, http://www.thevisioncouncil.org/sites/default/files/VC_DigitalEyeStrain_Report2015.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Elliot, “68% of Millenials Report Digital Eyestrain”

[6] Ibid.

[7] Eyestrain Symptoms, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/basics/symptoms/con-20032649

[8] Eyestrain Prevention, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/basics/prevention/con-20032649

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