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How to avoid digital eyestrain

By Dr. Edward Kondrot, Special to CNN

Our lives have increasingly become more digital today. While some may see this as a benefit, others are finding that it can literally be a pain in the eye.

Digital eyestrain is now a common problem. Eye and vision problems are reported in 70 to 75% of computer workers, according to the American Optometric Association.

Headaches, eye pain, redness, watering, double vision and loss of focus are all associated with digital eyestrain.

The good news is there are numerous things you can do to help avoid the condition, including:

Take a break. Take frequent 15 minute breaks and focus your eyes on a distant object across the room. This will give the focusing muscle a chance to relax.

Try palming. This is essentially meditation for the eyes. To do this, you will close your eyes and place the centers of your palms over your eyes. Take deep slow breaths and relax your eye muscles.

This is a wonderful way to rejuvenate your eyes during those long computer projects. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Tension in this area will cause a tension in your eyes. An occasional neck and shoulder massage will also work wonders.

Blink frequently. When doing demanding digital work, your blink rate decreases. A conscious effort should be made to blink lightly every 10 to 15 seconds. This will coat the cornea, or front part of the eye, to nourish your eye with oxygen and nutrients -- and the coating of tears will also sharpen your vision.

Wear computer glasses. Use a pair of computer glasses and work at the proper distance -- 20 to 28 inches, depending on the focal point of the eye. Computer glasses have a different focal point than reading glasses. This will reduce the effort of focusing and putting a strain on your eyes. The extra effort to focus will cause tension in the eye muscles, which in addition to causing eye discomfort can lead to an increase in eye pressure.

Your smartphone is a pain in the neck

Keep your monitor bright. This will reduce the flicker rate of the computer and reduce fatigue. Flickering can lead to eyestrain and headaches. A bright monitor causes the pupil to constrict and a greater range of focus will result. This will reduce the need for your eye to accommodate and enable you to work longer with more comfort.

Reduce blue light at night. A Harvard study revealed that blue light at night negatively reduces melatonin levels, which have a serious adverse health effect. It is associated with an increased incidence of diabetes, obesity and cancer. Reduce computer time at night or wear blue blocking glasses. These will block out the harmful blue spectrum light at night.

Take vitamins and minerals. Considering that the eyes have one of the highest energy requirements in the body, it is important that they get proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is important to opt for a vitamin that offers key antioxidants and ingredients that will help improve the health of the eye and reduce eyestrain. Those can include vitamins A, C, and E with a B complex and zinc.

Homeopathy. Speak with a practitioner to find a level of therapy that will work for your individual circumstances. One of the most common homeopathic remedies to treat eyestrain is Ruta Graveolens, a common ornamental plant found in gardens that is used to treat strains of tendons. This remedy can greatly reduce the symptoms of eyestrain during prolonged computer use.

Increase the light. Not having a light on when you are using the computer (or television) can put more of a strain on your eyes. Be sure to have a light on to help reduce the strain.

Check your computer's position. The position of your computer can add to your eyestrain. It is important that it is positioned a good distance away, around 20-28 inches from the eye, and that there are no glares on it. Re-position your computer to provide maximum eye comfort.

Following the tips above can help reduce your chances of getting digital eyestrain. You will feel better and be able to work longer.

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 Last Modified 5/2/17