If you’re someone who spends long hours gazing at a phone, tablet or laptop screen (so, you, basically), you’re likely dealing with some amount of eye strain. Headaches, blurred vision, dry, itchy eyes, insomnia, neck and shoulder pain… they’re all symptoms of digital eye strain, which The Vision Council says nearly 70% of American adults experience.
Turns out our eyes aren’t really designed to stare straight ahead at a lit up screen for long periods of time. The dryness comes from being so open for long periods of time (staring down at a book our lids keep more of our eyes moist… and we also blink a lot more). Plus the undetectable refresh rate of our screens causes a slight flicker that leaves us constantly trying to refocus. Lastly, the high-energy artificial blue light emitted from the displays of our devices may contribute to the development of certain eye and other health conditions.
Aside from chucking your smartphone, what can you do to support your poor pooped peepers? I’ve been hearing lots about glasses that are designed specifically to provide protection and comfort when staring at mobile devices, so I decided to check them out.
They work by providing clarity and contrast to keep things sharp and vivid. But they also absorb and reflect the blue light that can cause digital eye strain and mess with your sleep cycle, combatting the effects of staring at millions of glowing pixels all day.
These glasses from Pixel (above) are designed to absorb and reflect high-energy blue light. Computer lenses from Gunnar help your eyes focus naturally to provide sharper, clearer vision, as well as blocking blue light. And Eyezen sells glasses that are designed to help you see comfortably regardless of device sizes and the distances you hold them at, while filtering at least 20 percent of harmful blue light.
I’ve not yet tried the glasses from Pixel, but the frames are pretty. And while the glasses from Gunnar gave me relief from the blue light, their yellow tinge was a bit disorienting, and there are literally ZERO frames that I’d wear in front of anyone else (hey Gunnar guys, design some frames for us ladies, please?). Eyezen (above) was my favorite— the frames look just like my regular reading pair, and after wearing them for long periods of time, I felt less strained than I normally do. No headaches, and no itchy eyes.
If you think your eyes might benefit from digital eyewear, talk to your optometrist about your options. And if you don’t wear glasses, ask your primary doctor — it might be worth considering, especially if it means preventing eye damage down the road.
Of course, if you’re not ready to invest in special glasses to wear when you’re using your smartphone, then maybe try following this smart advice from an optometrist interviewed about eye strain in the New York Times: Make the print size larger. Read for shorter periods. And allow your eyes to relax by employing the “20-20-20” rule — for every 20 minutes of using the device, take a 20-second break and look at something beyond 20 feet.
Since I won’t be tossing my tablet anytime soon, and I kinda need my eyes to keep working long-term, I’m willing to give it all a try to avoid digital eye strain.
Would you buy glasses to help with eye strain? Are you suffering from symptoms? Let me know in the comments.