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How Computer Use Affects Your Eye Health

Updated on April 16, 2019
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Natasha is a freelance writer and author who has been writing self-help articles for over 20 years.

Your eyes are, in a matter of speaking, "the windows to your soul." How healthy you are is determined by how your eyes appear; they fluctuate with your moods, but can also indicate how the rest of your body is functioning. That's why, if you are getting sick, it tends to show first with droopy, puffy, or dull eyes.

Screen Time

Whether you work or are on the go, mobile devices (including tablets, smart phones, and laptops) are just as problematic on the eyes as desktop computers. Even if it's just for an hour per day, or several hours on end, the repeated use can cause one or more of these most common symptoms:

  • dry eyes
  • watery or itchy eyes
  • eye redness
  • eye pain or swelling
  • eye twitching
  • blurry or double vision

For every time you blink, your eyes are lubricated. But, since less blinking occurs when reading (on and off screen), this leads to dry eyes, and if left untreated, can progress to dry eye syndrome. Additionally, the glare of a lit screen can do the same sort of harm to your eyes and lids that being out in the sunlight without sunglasses does. So, between the two, you can easily end up with sensitive eyes, eye strain, headaches, and vision loss.

Better Work and Viewing Habits

The good news is that so long as you maintain good eye health habits, you can prevent or lessen eye damage without sacrificing your work productivity or leisure enjoyment.

Tips for Eye Health:

  1. Take regular breaks from looking at the screen every hour at a time. This means walking away from your computer (or putting away your device) to give your eyes a chance to relax.
  2. Use lubricating eye drops as often as needed. Believe it or not, people tend to UNDER use eye drops, thinking too much is a bad thing. But as long as the drops are preservative free and are for helping lubricate the eyes (my preference is Genteel over the counter), you can use them every 15 minutes if you want! Talk to your health practitioner if you may need prescription drops if regular ones don't fully help, especially if you are a seasonal or year-round allergy sufferer.
  3. Get plenty of sleep and avoid screen time when you are tired.
  4. Refrain from rubbing your eyes, as that will lead to a cycle of increased eye dryness, itching, and redness.
  5. Maintain a comfortable reading distance between you and your screen. Too close or too far away can equally cause unnecessary strain.
  6. Keep a light on. Even though it may be tempting to read a lit screen in a dimly lit or dark room, doing so will only make your eyes more prone to discomfort and permanently impair vision.
  7. Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet. If you don't drink enough water to replenish what your body sweats out each day, or eat enough green, leafy vegetables, magnesium-rich foods, and omega-3's in your diet, your eyes will also suffer.
  8. Maintain good eye hygiene. It goes without saying, don't sleep with your makeup (or even sunscreen) on, but do you regularly wash your eye lids and lashes along with your face each morning and night? If not, you should. The toxins and oils that settle onto your pores also can hamper the work of the oil glands on your eye lids. And where bacteria is free to grow, infections will result!
  9. Avoid prolonged exposure to fans and or being outside in weather. Excessive winds can be harsh and moisture-depleting to the eyes.

Relieving Eye Strain

NOTE: If you already have other existing conditions that impact your eyes, then it is also crucial to avoid prolonged screen reading and to follow your healthcare practitioner's advice.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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