Welcome to our blog series about stress! We include research, health facts, and solutions to handling stress in each article.
When stress affects our immune systems, weight loss goals, and heart health, we expect it. What we usually don’t expect is how stress affects our eye health. In today’s digital age, our favorite multitasking tools can cause something called “digital eye strain.” This condition, is growing more and more common among computer users.
A Modern Problem
When we use several digital devices, we develop digital eye strain: neck and back pain, headaches, and tired, irritated eyes. These symptoms can grow worse as days and weeks pass while we continue to use digital tools for both work and play.
Experts attribute the pains of digital eye strain to technology: work follows us everywhere through our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Because of this, we create makeshift workplaces on sofas and at coffee shop tables. These areas are not designed for the ergonomics that could help to relieve neck and back pain. But how is someone in our technology-run age supposed to avoid digital tools when they surround us on the streets, in our homes, and in our workplaces?
Three Practical Solutions
To stop the pains of digital eye strain without quitting work, some have found it helpful to set a timer that chimes every 30 seconds. (We recommend the 30/30 app available on iPhones and Androids!) When the timer chimes, it’s a reminder for us to look away from our screens. Look out the window or across the room and focus on a specific point while counting to 20 seconds. This brief reprieve helps our eye muscles and nerves to focus on something different, engaging new muscles and releasing the ones that spend too much time staring at a close-up screen.
Another solution is to take time for creativity. When we avoid digital screens, even just for a little while, and we paint or sketch or exercise instead, we create a relaxed space for our entire selves – including our eyes. Refocusing our eye muscles on paper or the road instead of a bright screen rests our eyes.
Stress, Eye Health, and Nature’s Trail Wellness Center