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Zoom Fatigue & Digital Eye Strain
Expert tips for protecting your vision during the current pandemic

SAN DIEGO, CALIF (August 11, 2020) - The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the daily routines of people around the world. Much of today’s social interaction has shifted to Zoom, Skype and other virtual connections. Technology has been a lifesaver in respect to communication, but too much digital screen time can take a toll on eye health and vision.

“Social distancing means we are online more than ever before, with video conference calls, remote learning, emails and e-commerce, social media and telemedicine,” said Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego. “Having so many ways to safely connect with each other is great, but it’s also causing extreme eye strain.”

In these unprecedented times, it is now nearly impossible to completely avoid digital devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers and television screens. And adults aren’t the only ones with access to technology 24/7. More and more children have their eyes glued to one kind of digital screen or another, or many times, two devices at once.

“We are so used to constantly exposing our eyes to technology that we aren’t even aware of the impact it has on our vision,” said Dr. Feldman. “It’s a great concern for eye doctors like me, especially since people of all ages are spending extended periods of time using technology.”

Dr. Feldman offered a quick overview of the impact that prolonged use of technology can have on eye health:

Difficulty Sleeping
Many people bring their phone or other personal devices to bed, often using them as alarm Clocks. The blue light which is emitted from the white background of the LED screen activates a photoreceptor in the retina which helps us stay awake and alert.

Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain
Computer Vision Syndrome affects millions of people. Symptoms include headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, eye strain and itchy or watery eyes. These symptoms are typically caused by three factors -- not blinking enough, holding digital devices too close to the eyes, and staring at digital screens at an angle that exposes more of the eyes’ surface. This often results in irritated dry and tired eyes.

Headaches and Migraines
Another common side effect of digital overexposure is a headache triggered by the harsh contrast between a bright screen and dark text. This forces the eyes to work hard in order to focus, which can lead to muscle spasms near the temples. Too much eye strain can also lead to migraines, with symptoms that include pulsing and throbbing pain, nausea, and visual issues such as flashing, light sensitivity and even temporary blindness.

“There’s no question that technology is helping us get through this pandemic, but it is very important to take breaks from digital devices every now and then,” Dr. Feldman advised.

Dr. Feldman’s top tips for avoiding “Zoom fatigue” and digital eye strain include:

  • Adjust the brightness and color of screen on your devices to lessen the white light
  • Keep your screens further away from your eyes to reduce the strain of constant focusing.
  • Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. And blink 20 times.
  • Use a warm compress once or twice a day to ease tired, irritated or dry eyes

 

In Dr. Feldman’s words, “No one knows how long this pandemic will last. For now, technology can help us keep in touch with family and friends and makes it possible to work and learn remotely. We just need to take sensible precautions to protect our vision while we’re doing it.”

About Sandy T. Feldman, MD
Sandy T. Feldman MD, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center, is a world-renowned corneal expert who has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. Clearview has been voted Best LASIK center by the San Diego Union Tribune (five times) and by CityBeat Magazine (three times). Dr. Feldman’s many awards include Top Doc San Diego; the Goldline Award, an honor granted to the top 10 laser eye care specialists in the U.S.; and the Silver Elite RealSelf Award. She has also been profiled in publications such as Forbes and Newsweek and makes frequent appearances as an expert commentator on TV talk shows and news programs. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons, as well as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. More details at clearvieweyes.com.

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