More of us experience computer eye fatigue than ever before. We spend more time on the computer or on our digital devices. Technically, digital eye strain is marked by eye discomfort, digital disturbance such as light flashes, double vision, difficulty in focusing, etc, or headaches and migraines. In the case of any sudden change in your vision it is important to consult your medical professional.
But the generic sort of eye strain that most of us experience is often simply characterized by eye fatigue, stiff neck, sort back, irritability, or headaches. There are a number of factors that contribute:
- uncorrected vision (astigmatism, myopia, accommodative issues, etc)
- reduced blinking (reduced rate and incomplete blinking)
- excessive exposure to intense light
- closer working distance
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- dry eye syndrome
Prevention is Key
Prevention is the best strategy to reduce computer eye fatigue. There are three problem areas you can work on.
Make sure your computer set-up is good. See our info on set ups for laptops and working on your lap and desktops. For smart phones devices aim for a minimum of 12″ viewing distance. As we get tired we tend to view smart phones at closer distances which increases the strain. Sit up when using your smart phone. Users who view smartphones sitting up tend to have a longer (better) viewing distance than those who lie down while viewing. And the shorter viewing distances are associated with poor sleep quality.
2. Eye muscles
Just as overuse of our shoulder muscles results in shoulder soreness overuse of our eyes result in eye fatigue which manifests as asthenopia, computer eye strain, light sensitivity, dry eyes, and other conditions. When you look at your computer screen for a long time some of the eye muscles (ciliary) remain contracted and eventually get tired and lose their ability to remain contracted. As they loosen the pull on other muscles (zonules of Zinn) decreases and your focus becomes blurry, pain sets in and headaches and other symptoms result.
Without ample supplies of essential nutrients, especially the antioxidant carotenoids, our eyes accumulate oxidative damage. This occurs mostly from the damaging effect of blue light from the sun but also, increasingly, from our computers. Nutrition is essential but we don’t always get enough from the food we eat, so sometimes supplements are useful, especially as a protective measure. Anyone who spends a lot of time on the computer should pay attention to the vision nutrients.
- Nutrition helps. The carotenoids in general (which protect against retinal and macular deterioration) are helpful against eye fatigue. Brightly colored vegetables have the most carotenoids and other antioxidants.
- Some of these antioxidants, such as lutein and astaxanthin are especially helpful for eye fatigue, especially if you take them as preventative supplements. A number of studies have demonstrated astaxanthin’s efficacy in reducing oxidative stress in the retina,2 and protects mitochondrial function,3
- Like astaxanthin, lutein,4 and other carotenoids are well known for their support of visual function through their antioxidant capacity as blue light filters.5 6
- These essential nutrients are also available in Dr. Grossman’s Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula, and in our discounted Computer Eye Strain Package.
- Lertwisuttipaiboon S, Pumpaibool T, Neeser KJ, Kaesetsuwan N. (2017). Effectiveness of a participatory eye care program in reducing eye strain among staff computer users in Thailand. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. May 11;10:71-80. ↩
- Findik H, Tumkaya L, Yilmaz A, Gokhan Asian M, Okutucu M, et al. (2019). The protective effects of astaxanthin against cisplatin-induced retinal toxicity. Cutan Ocul Toxicol. Mar;38(1):59-65. ↩
- Kim SH, Kim H. (2018). Inhibitory Effect of Astaxanthin on Oxidative Stress-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction-A Mini-Review. Nutrients. Aug 21;10(9):E1137. ↩
- Ma L, Lin XM, Zou ZY, Xu SR, Li Y, Xu R. (2009). A 12-week lutein supplementation improves visual function in Chinese people with long-term computer display light exposure. Br J Nutr. Jul;102(2):186-90. ↩
- Ambati RR, Phang SM, Ravi S, Aswanthanarayana RG. (2014). Astaxanthin: sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial applications–a review. Mar Drugs. Jan 7;12(1):128-52. ↩
- Piermarocchi S, Saviano S, Parisi V, Tedeschi M, Panozzo G, et al. (2012). Carotenoids in Age-related Maculopathy Italian Study (CRMIS); two-year results of a randomized study. Eur J Ophthalmol. Mar-Apr;22(2):216-25. ↩