As the number of electronic screens we use every day has increased over the years, so has the number of people diagnosed with vision problems caused by using those screens. Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of vision problems brought on by prolonged use of computers, tablets, smartphones, and e-readers.

Many people report symptoms of eye strain, such as headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain after using such devices. Those most at risk of experiencing symptoms typically spend two or more hours continually using screens per day. A 2014 study by The Vision Council showed nearly three in 10 adults spend more than nine hours each day looking at their computer, smartphone and tablet screens.

Looking at screens taxes the eye more than other activities for many reasons. Backlighting, high contrast between light and dark areas, and small fonts and images all make it more difficult for the eye to properly focus and adjust to provide a clear picture. In addition, people with prescription glasses or contact lenses may experience additional strain if their lens prescriptions are not specifically designed to work with screens.

Computer Vision Syndrome can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye examination. By testing how the eyes focus, move and work together, the doctor can understand how your eyes function under strain and advise ways to treat the condition.

But despite the increasing use and ubiquity of these screens in our everyday lives, there are steps you can take to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome. Dr. Trevor Elmquist, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Elmquist Eye Group in Fort Myers, recommends following the 20/20/20 rule: Every twenty minutes, take a twenty-second break and look at something at a distance of twenty feet or more. “Doing so will allow the eyes to rest and recuperate, and it can alleviate a lot of the strain,” said Dr. Elmquist. Extended focus on screens can also lead you to forget to blink, so be sure to stop every few minutes and blink a few times to keep the eyes lubricated and clear.

It’s also important to position screens correctly. A computer screen should be four or five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away. The screen should also be positioned to avoid glare from overhead lights or windows. Screens should be kept clean of fingerprint smears and dust.

If you experience symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome while wearing glasses, consider using a high-quality anti-glare treatment in your eyewear lenses that will protect your eyes, regardless of what electronic device you are using. Crizal Prevencia, an anti-glare lens treatment, is designed to filter out harmful light spectrums that cause eye strain from electronic use. In addition, Crizal Prevencia is a lens easier to maintain clean and more scratch-resistant than ever. This is why the product comes with a two-year unlimited warranty against scratches.

If you suffer from the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, talk to your ophthalmologist about the tools and techniques available to relieve your symptoms and use your devices comfortably.

If you have concerns about your vision, it is important to speak with a doctor to discuss treatment options. Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist, Dr. Kate Wagner, Dr. Nina Burt, and Dr. Sarah Eccles-Brown of Elmquist Eye Group are available to answer your questions. For more information, visit, call 239-936-2020 or stop by an Optical Boutique location in Cape Coral or Fort Myers.