Do Computer Screens Affect Eyesight?

computer eye strainComputer users are concerned about their vision. When we recently searched online for “vision computer screen” the top four searches were:

      1. Do computer screens affect eyesight?
      2. Can staring at a computer screen cause double vision?
      3. Is computer vision syndrome serious?
      4. How do you get rid of computer vision syndrome?

The answer to the first 3 questions: yes.  This article answers the 4th.

1. Do computer screens affect eyesight?

The short answer is yes, and there are more problems than “only” tired eyes and eye strain.

Because blue light is a short wavelength, it has more energy and “flickers” more easily than longer, weaker wavelengths. While not superficially noticeable, blue light creates glare, reduces visual contrast, affects vision acuity, and causes general eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. The damaging effects of blue light are more serious in low light conditions when the pupil is enlarged and takes in more light. Consequently, the retina receives a larger dose of blue light.

Electronic LED-lit screens emit short-wavelength blue light that passes through the eye’s initial filter (the lens) and pass directly to the back of the eye to the retina and macula. Even exposures as short as one hour can cause free radical generation, cell death, and accelerated cell aging.1

Furthermore, our skin is also subject to the damage caused by oxidative stress caused by blue light.2 Also take note that blue light is also emitted by florescent lighting and indoor LED light bulbs.

Blue light is a contributing cause of glaucoma,3 4  photoreceptor-related conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa,5 6 7 eye cancer,8 and macular degeneration.9 Blue light also contributes to dry eye syndrome and damage to the cornea, which is the outer protective layer for the eye.10

In addition to the direct physical damage from blue light emitted from electronic screens, the slumped physical position that we sometimes adopt causes indirect damage to the eyes and body. It increases neck-muscle tightness, causes neuro-vascular compression, reduces available oxygen and nutrients, impinges on nerve conduction to and from the body and the head, and compresses the lung cavities, preventing full, nourishing breathing.

2. Can staring at a computer screen cause double vision?

Double vision (diplopia) is one of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.11  Nearly 29% of university students with computer eye syndrome complain of double vision.  Diplopia onset is usually sudden and frequently causes fear.  It usually lasts only a few moments, but is a warning that better ergonomics, more careful use of electronics, more attention to diet, getting enough quality sleep, and regular exercise are warranted.

Double vision can also be due to more serious causes.  If you experience double vision and it doesn’t go away very quickly, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible.  It may be an indication of stroke, trauma, other diseases, or a systemic disorder.

3. Is computer vision syndrome serious?

Computer vision syndrome is caused by repeated stress to the eyes due to overuse, too-close viewing, staring and not blinking enough, and the blue light emitted by LED devices.  CVS is aggravated by lack of the vision carotenoids that help prevent the development of free radicals.  By itself it is not “serious” because with a change in lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and ergonomics it can be resolved.

However, the damage from short-wavelength blue light that accompanies the practices that cause CVS can be permanent, as discussed above.

4. How do you get rid of computer vision syndrome?

The immediate answer is to pay attention to computer ergonomics, get plenty of exercise, get quality sleep, and improve your diet. You can do eye exercises, take breaks, and make sure you are blinking while on the computer.  Our blink rate unconsciously slows when we are focused on the computer.  Slowed blink rate means fast deterioration of the tear film that protects the surface of our eyes against dry eye symptoms.

For long term vision health it is essential that you address the issue of exposure to blue light.

Blue light blocking glasses for inside use, and amber (best) or brown colored sunglasses for outdoor use help to block blue light. There are blue light blocking computer glasses you can use as well.

Display filters. Most modern computers and cell phones have a built in blue light filter that you can turn on. For example, in Windows 10, if you right-click (or tap with two fingers) anywhere on the background screen and then select “display settings”, you can reset your night light settings to turn on in the morning and remain on all day, rather than only turning on in the evening. Blue light exposure in the evening hinders melatonin, the enzyme that helps you get to sleep, so modern computers have been adding the night settings. You can use them all day for more blue light protection.

Nutrition. The “vision” carotenoids, lutein, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin, and lycopene are yellow/red pigments that naturally help protect the retina and macula. It is well established that getting sufficient amounts of these essential nutrients protects against macular conditions such as macular degeneration 12 (and are even passed through to the brain to support healthy brain function), cataract,13 14 diabetic retinopathy,15 central serous chorioretinopathy, 16 uveitis,17 and retinitis pigmentosa.18 19

Exercise. More and more research points out that daily moderate exercise, such as a 20 minute (minimum) brisk walk is essential for good health and good vision.

Sleep.  Getting a good night’s sleep is critical.  One of the ways to help your body get to sleep naturally is to get enough exercise, don’t eat too heavily at dinner, and avoid computer/cell phone use for at least an hour before bed.

Diet. A diet rich in dark leafy greens and colored fruits and vegetables supplies these essential vision carotenoids.  You need one cup (fresh) or 1/2 cup (cooked) dark leafy greens every day, every meal of kale, chard, spinach, etc.  You need 2 servings of colored vegetables or fruit daily.  This includes tomatoes, winter squash, beets, berries, etc.

Take regular breaks from the computer. Take regular breaks at least every 1/2 – 1 hour to rest your eyes, do some eye exercises including palming, and stretch.  These and other exercises are included in our free eye exercise booklet.

Nutrients. Supplement with vision nutrients, especially the carotenoids if you think you are not regularly getting enough in your diet.  You can try our 3-month supply of tailored nutrients in Computer Eye Strain Package I or Package II.

Or, if you wish to focus on the related dry eye syndrome, you can try our Omega-7 Chronic Dry Eye & Inflammatory formula, our Dry Eye & Tear Film Support formula, or our Dry Eye Package I.

Learn more about computer vision syndrome and dry eye syndrome.

Read our comprehensive guide to vision care for more information: Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Vision Health and Healing.


  1. Arjmandi N, Mortazavi Gh, Zarei S, Faraz, Mortazavi SAR. (2018). Can Light Emitted from Smartphone Screens and Taking Selfies Cause Premature Aging and Wrinkles. J Biomed Phys Eng. Dec 1;8(4):447-452.
  2. Ibid. Arjamandi. (2018).
  3.  Tatemichi M, Nakano T, Tanaka K, Hayashi, T., Nawa, T. et al. (2004). Possible association between heavy computer users and glaucomatous visual field abnormalities: a cross sectional study in Japanese workers. J Epidemiol Community Health, Dec;58(12):1021-7.
  4. Nakano T, Hayaski T, Nakagawa T, Honda T, Owada S, et al. (2017). Increased Incidence of Visual Field Abnormalities as Determined by Frequency Doubling Technology Perimetry in High Computer Users Among Japanese Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study. J Epidemiol, Nov 25.
  5.  Geiger P, Barben M, Grimm C, Samardzija M. (2015). Blue light-induced retinal lesions, intraretinal vascular leakage and edema formation in the all-cone mouse retina. Cell Death Dis, Nov 19;6:e1985.
  6. Grimm C, Wenzel A, Williams T, Rol P, Hafezi F, et al. (2001). Rhodopsin-mediated blue-light damage to the rat retina: effect of photoreversal of bleaching. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, Feb;42(2):497-505.
  7. Narimatsu T, Negishi K, Miyake S, Hirasawa M, Osada H, et al. (2015). Blue light-induced inflammatory marker expression in the retinal pigment epithelium-choroid of mice and the protective effect of a yellow intraocular lens material in vivo. Exp Eye Res, Mar;132:48-51.
  8. Logan P, Bernabeu M, Ferreira A, Burner MN. (2015). Evidence for the Role of Blue Light in the Development of Uveal Melanoma. J Ophthalmol, 2015:386986.
  9. Fletcher AE, Bentham GC, Agnew M, Young IS, Augood C, et al. (2008). Sunlight exposure, antioxidants, and age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol, Oct;126(10):1396-403.
  10. Marek V, Melik-Parsadiniantz S, Villette T, Montoya F, Baudouin C, et al. (2018). Blue light phototoxicity toward human corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells in basal and hyperosmolar conditions. Free Radic Biol Med. Oct;126:27-40.
  11. Blehm C, Vishnu S, Khattak A, Mitra S, Yee RW. (2005). Computer vision syndrome: a review. Surv Ophthalmol. May-Jun;50(3):253-62.
  12. Richer S, Stiles W, Statkute L, Pulido J, Frankowski J, et al. (2004). Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry, Apr;75(4):216-30.
  13. Manayi A, Abdollahi M, Raman T, Nabavi SF, Hablemariam S, et al, (2015). Lutein and cataract: from bench to bedside. Crit Rev Biotechnol. Oct;36(5):829-39.
  14. Padmanabha S, Vallikannan B. (2018). Fatty acids modulate the efficacy of lutein in cataract prevention: Assessment of oxidative and inflammatory parameters in rats. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Jun 2;500(2):435-442.
  15. Neelam K, Goenadi CJ, Lun K, Yip CC, Au Eong KG. (2017). Putative protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in diabetic retinopathy. Br J Ophthalmol. May;101(5):551-558.
  16. Sawa, M., Gomi, F., Hara, C., Nishida, K. (2014). Effects of a lutein supplement on the plasma lutein concentration and macular pigment in patients with central serous chorioretinopathy. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci. Jul 29;55(8):5238-44.
  17. He RR, Tsoi B, Lan F, Yao N, Yao XS, et al. (2011). Antioxidant properties of lutein contribute to the protection against lipopolysaccharide-induced uveitis in mice. Chin Med. Oct 31;6(1):38.
  18. Bahrami H, Melia M, Dagnelie G. (2006). Lutein supplementation in retinitis pigmentosa: PC-based vision assessment in a randomized double-masked placebo-controlled clinical trial. BMC Ophthalmol. Jun 7;6:23.
  19. Sandberg MA, Johnson EJ, Berson EL. (2010). The relationship of macular pigment optical density to serum lutein in retinitis pigmentosa. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Feb;51(2):1086-91.