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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Digital eye exhaustion: This helps with tired and stressed eyes

Many people suffer from dry and itchy eyes when they work long hours at the computer – and currently many of us spend more time at the screen than usual.

Tired eyes: how to avoid pain

The eyes sting, itch or feel dry: Many people who work longer at the screen know these kinds of sensations . The ophthalmologist and professor Dr. Irmingard Neuhann from the Neuhann Medical Care Center in Munich speaks of digital eye exhaustion.

“This is used to describe all the abnormal sensations that can occur during long PC work,” she says. “This can be blurred vision, a burning sensation or stinging in the eye. But also a grain of sand or simply red and tired eyes. “

Digital eye exhaustion: that’s behind it

The symptoms are particularly caused by the fact that the eyes become dry when looking at a screen for a long time. Sometimes a slight ametropia is the cause, which does not cause any problems in everyday life, but leads to discomfort when working with a computer screen. 

Even looking at something from the same distance all the time, as is the case with a screen, is eye-tiring. “We ophthalmologists have been treating patients with such problems in our practices for a long time, because computer work has increased significantly overall,” says Neuhann. 

More time on the screen increases the symptoms

However, the corona situation means that more people than usual suffer from such complaints: “We all spend even more time in heated or air-conditioned rooms and also look more at the screen.” 

Many hobbies and meetings with other people disappear – and it is not uncommon for you to spend this time on the screen, for example, watching a series. In addition, some people work in the home office on a laptop and therefore very close to the screen.

Why is screen work so problematic? 

The main cause is the lack of blinking: “When working on the screen – as when reading for a long time – the blink reflex is unconsciously suppressed and we blink only about 7 times per minute instead of 15 times,” says the expert. This will dry out the eyes that would otherwise be moistened when you blink. 

You can first treat dry eyes yourself

Anyone who suffers from burning, itchy or dry eyes can first try a self-treatment at home. This applies at least if the complaints arise in connection with work on the computer. Rule of thumb of the ophthalmologist: “Any complaints that get better when I take a break and close my eyes are very likely to be harmless.” If this does not improve the symptoms, it is better to see an ophthalmologist to be on the safe side.

In everyday life you can do a few things yourself to protect your eyes: For example, it helps to keep a sufficient distance from the screen. The distance should be around 50 to 70 centimeters, and more for large screens. Contrast and brightness should also be set appropriately. “The screen brightness should not differ significantly from the ambient brightness,” says the expert. It is also ideal to work in a room that is not too bright and in which one is not dazzled. 

Look into the distance every 20 minutes for 20 seconds

Blinking consciously helps to moisten the eyes. However, this can disturb concentration. “So eye drops are even better,” says Neuhann. It also relieves the eyes if you consciously look into the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. You can set an alarm clock for that.

“You should like to let your gaze wander a little and focus on different distances,” says the ophthalmologist. So it helps to look out the window or, ideally, to get up straight away and take a few steps, which is also good for the rest of the body.

Screen glasses can be useful

It is also important to wear computer glasses if necessary. Some people suffer from minor ametropia, which only causes problems after a long period of work at the screen. “Computer glasses are especially recommended for farsighted people and those who are starting to have presbyopia,” says the expert.

Presbyopia often becomes noticeable between the ages of 40 and 45. But it can also occur earlier. “The already weakened muscle for the close-up is then heavily used on the screen,” says Neuhann. She recommends that all people over a certain age have glasses adapted to the rigid distance to the screen. They work in a similar way to reading glasses, but are adjusted to the distance to the screen. “This means that the area through which you can relax and see is much larger,” says Neuhann. 

Instead of blue light filter glasses, choose night mode

Some people also get so-called blue light filter glasses. They are supposed to filter the blue light that emanates from computer screens and cell phone displays, and thereby protect the eyes. However, the ophthalmologist is skeptical about this trend: according to all that is known so far, the blue light from these sources is not harmful to the eyes and especially to the retina.

“The intensities that we are exposed to outside even when the sky is overcast are much higher than those that come from screens,” says Neuhann. Blue light filter glasses are therefore explicitly not recommended by the specialist ophthalmic associations. “If you still want to be on the safe side, you can use the night mode on your computer, laptop or smartphone to choose a dark display and reduce the brightness.”

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