Skip to content

Strained eyes: tips on how to recognize and treat the symptoms of digital eye strain

You probably use screens for just about everything – working, relaxing, or just keeping up with daily life. If your eyes feel dry and tired, your vision is blurry at the end of the day, or your head, neck and shoulders hurt, digital devices could be to blame. Changing the way you use smartphones, computers, tablets and other screens can help you avoid eyestrain. We provide useful information on what you can do about strained eyes.

Why do screens cause eye strain?

Why do screens cause eye strain?

Normally, we blink about 15-20 times per minute. This distributes tears evenly across the eyes, preventing them from becoming dry and irritated. However, researchers have found that people blink less than half as often when reading, watching or playing on a screen. The contrast between text and background, glare and flickering of digital screens can also be taxing on the eyes.

Symptoms of digital eye strain: strained eyes.

Strained eyes - How to recognize and treat the symptoms of digital eye strain.

Irritated eyes, blurred vision and difficulty focusing are telltale signs that your screen time is falling short. Whether you use a computer for work or indulge in a Netflix session for pleasure, your daily dose of screen time could be taking a digital toll on your eye health.

When our eyes are glued to the screen, whether it’s a TV, computer, smartphone or e-reader, we blink less, which dries out and strains the eyes. This is called digital eye strain. While it doesn’t cause permanent damage, it can lead to significant discomfort because the eyes aren’t meant to be fixated on a single object for an extended period of time. You may experience light sensitivity, eye fatigue, difficulty reading small print, and even neck or shoulder pain when staring at your screen.

Check the ergonomics of your workstation

Check the ergonomics of your workstation

The goal of ergonomics in your workplace is to increase productivity and comfort. Choose a desk chair that supports your upper body and encourages you to sit up straight and keep your neck in a neutral position.

Adjust your desktop monitor so that it is about an arm’s length away and at or near your eye level. Regardless of the type of monitor, make sure it is aligned with your head to reduce strain on your eyes and neck. Screens should be directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level for maximum comfort.

What helps with vision problems?

The light emitted from your device, the glare on the screen, and the lighting conditions in your environment can increase the strain on your eyes. To alleviate or avoid eyestrain, your device should be the brightest light in the room.

Increase the brightness of your device when you are in a bright environment, such as in an office or outdoors. Decrease the brightness when you are in a dark room. Cleaning the screen regularly will also help remove dust and stains that can increase glare.

Avoid strained eyes: Blink more often

Blinking spreads tears across the surface of your eyes to keep them comfortable, but we naturally blink less when we’re focused on the screen. By being aware of how often you blink, you can reduce the symptoms of digital eye strain. Get in the habit of blinking more often when using a device or watching TV.

Take regular breaks

Strained eyes - Take regular breaks.


In addition to blinking more often, try taking regular breaks to give your eyes a break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: take 20 seconds every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet (about 20 feet) away.

Focusing on something other than a screen for even a few minutes will reduce eye strain. You can also reduce the risk of muscle fatigue and neck pain by standing up or stretching.

Soothe strained eyes: Use artificial tears

Soothe strained eyes - Use artificial tears

Over-the-counter artificial tears can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well moisturized and prevent symptoms from recurring.

Try glasses that block blue light

Try wearing glasses that block blue light


Blue light waves occur naturally in sunlight, but devices also emit a lot of blue light. Prolonged exposure to artificial blue light can contribute to eye fatigue and even affect your ability to sleep at night.

Computer glasses or blue light goggles prevent too much blue light from reaching your eyes. Wearing blue light glasses when you use your computer, tablet, or phone can help alleviate the symptoms of digital eye strain.

Get your eyes checked

Digital Eye Strain Symptoms - Get Your Eyes Examined

Have your eyes examined regularly by an eye doctor to make sure they are healthy and to determine if any chronic eye diseases are developing. Your eye doctor will also check to see if prescribed vision aids are working properly during screen time.