Your patients are likely feeling digital eye strain (DES) symptoms, but may not even realize it. As they spend more time than ever in front of digital screens and smartphones, the strain on their eyes will become more apparent. Here are ten talking points to help start a conversation about DES symptoms that your patients may not understand.
1 Blurred Vision:
"Think about how you look at your phone, then your computer screen, back at your phone and then out into the distance. Like any muscle that is held in one position for an extended length of time it contracts and then has a hard time relaxing. Same goes for your eye muscles. You have been looking at near objects, the muscles have contracted, then you quickly go to look up and the muscles have locked up. They cannot relax quickly and that causes your blurred vision."
2 Tired Eyes:
"Any muscle that is fatigued is going to be sore and tired. Tired eyes come from looking at digital devices for extended periods of time, or transitioning between near and far too many times in a short period of time."
"When your eyes are tired you will get headaches. They especially occur in the frontal lobe area where the muscles are strained from focusing on a near object for extended periods of time."
4 Body Fatigue:
Patients at the end of the day are finding they are just so tired they need to close their eyes. When the eyes are closed there is nothing for them to focus on and the muscles can relax. "Do you find yourself with your eyes closed sitting and listening to TV rather than watching it?"
5 Dry Eyes:
"Your blink rate goes down when focusing on a digital screen. Every time you blink the eye needs to readjust, and that’s extra work it doesn’t like to do. Our body wants to avoid this extra work which is why the blink rate goes down when focused on near objects, up to ten times per minute for computer work, and down to four times a minute for smartphones. The issue is that not blinking dries out your eyes."
6 Light Sensitivity:
"Eye muscles grow extremely tired when they have been working all day. When light enters your eye, it constricts the pupil which is right next to the ciliary body. So when this happens at night, it is a similar feeling to if you were lifting weights all day and then someone came along and punched you in the arm. That muscle will be sore and tender."
7 Eye Rubbing:
"What muscle doesn't feel good when you rub it! If you feel the need to rub your eyes a lot they are probably irritated and fatigued."
8 Poor Night Vision:
"Our eyes do not know how to focus on light. Just as if I was to hold a pin light in the dark ten feet away from you, you would not be able to tell if that light was ten feet from you or if it was ten light years away from you. Our eyes just can't focus on light."
9 Reduced Concentration:
"Any time a muscle is overused and in your case focusing on light, it becomes more difficult as the day goes on to hold in that position."
10 Double Vision:
"This has more to do with how your eyes work together as a team. Never before in the history of humanity have we had to look at things up close so often for so long which such persistent converging and diverging all day. The muscles become so tired they lose their ability to hold a position and team up to focus on an object."