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Computers have become such an integral part of modern life, most people spend hours looking at electronic screens and monitors.

This use of the eyes that Mother Nature probably never anticipated has led to an epidemic of eyestrain. Some vision experts have warned the public about the damage electronic devices can cause.

If you stare at a computer screen or smartphone many hours a day, you should know the potential dangers.

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Blue Light From Digital Devices

Light exists on a spectrum of wavelengths that emit different colors. The higher-energy wavelengths are in the blue range – the same range emitted by the screens of digital devices, like computers, tablets and smartphones.

Some evidence indicates that too much blue light exposure can damage the light-sensitive cells in the eyes, and may increase the risk of macular degeneration, which can threaten vision in one’s later years. More research is needed, but the experiences of the many people who work with computers throughout the day suggest that workers should take steps to protect their eyes from daily digital eye strain.

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Reduced Blinking Rates

Normally, people blink about 18 times per minute. Blinking allows the tear ducts to spread moisture over the eyes, to keep them comfortable and, well, moist. Staring at a device for long periods of time reduces the number of times we blink.

As a result, eyes receive less moisture and begin to feel dry and easily tired. In fact, eye fatigue is one of the most frequent complaints of people who work on computers.

Computer Vision Syndrome

While no evidence indicates that frequent computer use can cause long-term damage to eyes, it does appear to cause a condition called “computer vision syndrome.” Symptoms include blurry vision, double vision, eye fatigue, irritation, redness, dry eyes and frequent headaches (check the video, above).

Eye discomfort can be so severe, it begins to impact work performance. To manage computer vision syndrome, vision experts recommend taking active steps to protect your eyes throughout the day.

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Tips For Keeping Your Eyes More Comfortable

Protecting your eyes is as important as protecting the rest of your health. Eye care professionals recommend that individuals take the following actions to preserve eye health when using computers and other devices:

  • Adjust your computer monitor for more comfortable viewing.
  • Change your seating to provide a better position for viewing the monitor.
  • Consciously blink more frequently to moisten eyes.
  • Make a regular habit of looking away from the screen every few minutes. Experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule, every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds.
  • Periodically take long breaths, which helps to relax eye muscles.
  • Take frequent breaks – get up, walk around and look around. This will improve blood circulation throughout your body, including your eyes.
  • Talk to your optometrist about special glasses for computer work.

Computers make demands on your eyes. To ensure good eye health, you should implement daily strategies that ensure eyes get the tools they need to work well – getting adequate moisture, regular exercise and periodic rest. These strategies will protect your eyes and help you to work more efficiently and more comfortably while at the computer.

See your eye care professional to make sure your eyes are at maximum health!

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