What is Digital Eye Strain?

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital Eye Strain (DES) in short is a culmination of symptoms caused by staring at digital devices for too long, such as phone, laptop, computer monitor or tablet. There are a variety of symptoms of the ailment that people can experience, ranging from singular to multiple reported.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms reported include:

  • Eye Fatigue
  • Discomfort or irritation in Eyes
  • Headaches
  • Dry or itchy eyes
  • Blurry or double vision

These symptoms vary in intensity and prevalence with some people more prone to certain symptoms than others. With screen usage part of most people’s daily routine and work, understanding what causes these symptoms is crucial in learning to manage and maximise your own productivity and energy levels but above all your overall wellbeing day to day.

What causes Digital Eye Strain?

In the grand scheme of things, technology and digital devices are a relatively new invention, and our bodies simply haven’t evolved to be able to stare at screens for long periods without facing challenges. Two of the main contributing factors to Digital Eye Strain are Blue light and Glare, both byproducts of digital devices but both very manageable with simple changes in your daily routine.

 -Blue Light

Blue light, also known as high energy light (HEV) is emitted by digital devices and increases eye strain more so than other colours that have a longer wavelength (see image below). As technology has evolved becoming more energy efficient, the downside is they now emit more blue light than before.

Blue light suppresses the secretion of Melatonin, an important hormone your body produces to help you fall asleep. This means using digital devices late before bed can make it harder to fall asleep or a poorer quality of sleep. It may also be a contributor to other vision problems including cataracts as well as age-related macular degeneration.


The second common cause is Glare or unnecessary feedback that enters into the eye. As well as proving to be an irritating aspect of using digital devices, there are in extreme cases health detriments also. 

Digital eye strain can also be accelerated in adults who wear prescription eyewear. This is because the corrective lenses they wear are often not designed or intended for viewing the mid-distance range of digital devices.

Understanding the causes of Digital Eye Strain allows you to avoid such scenarios in your daily life affording you both short-term relief and long-term health benefits.

So how do you relieve Digital Eye Strain? 

Use the 20:20:20 Rule

To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. This relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

Use proper lighting
Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices.

Get a thorough eye examination
Having regular routine eye examinations are an obvious but essential component for consistent eye health. Particularly in this digital age, individuals who use digital devices should get eye test annually. 

Adjust your workstation Setup
Ensuring how you interact physically with your digital devices has a huge bearing on your eye health. Adjusting your workstation to be more ergonomic to your needs along with proper display settings on your device (lighting, contrast etc) will greatly reduce digital eye strain. I find myself that studying in college can be quite taxing on my eyes so it's very important to have the right environment to optimise your work. 

Check out the Henshaw Eyewear XII Blue Block collection to help combat the symptoms of Digital Eye Strain. Our blue Light Filter lenses filter out up to 86% of High Energy Visible Blue Light. No more itchy eyes, no more headaches!