Digital Dilemma

Most of us can’t live without our smart phones, tablets and computers, but are all those hours staring at a screen putting a strain on our eyes? 7’s Diana Diaz shows us how we can help prevent this Digital Dilemma.

WSVN — Like so many of us, Corrine Carcamo works in an office, spending hours in front of a computer.

Corrine Carcamo: “I would say at least six and a half to seven.”

Recently she started to notice her eyes felt funny.

Corrine Carcamo: “My eyes felt heavy, like I just wanted to close them. I felt like I had sand in my eyes.”

Ophthalmologist Geetha Vedula says Corrine is suffering from a condition called digital eye strain.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “Digital eye strain is a temporary discomfort that you get when you use a digital device for at least two hours or more.”

And she’s not alone. Millions of Americans are suffering from the same problem.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “According to the Vision Council, there’s 70 percent of U.S. adults affected by it.”

She says more and more patients are coming to the Cleveland Clinic with similar complaints.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “The symptoms they typically complain of are difficulty focusing, blurry vision, double vision, red and dry eyes, increased tearing.”

The good news is there are things you can do to relieve the symptoms and help prevent the condition.

First, get a thorough eye exam. You may need to invest in a pair of glasses just for computer use. There are also some adjustments you can make on your own.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “It’s important that the computer is about 20 to 28 inches away from the person using the computer.”

Dr. Vedula says, make sure the screen is slightly lower than eye level so you’re not straining your neck. Use dimmer lighting in the room you’re working in and adjust the brightness and contrast on your screen to reduce glare.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “Blue light may in the long run produce some damage to cells that can lead to cataracts or worsening of macular degeneration.”

Corrine had an eye exam. The doctor recommended artificial tears to relieve her dry eyes, and now she takes breaks throughout the day.

Dr. Geetha Vedula: “I try to take at least 5-minute breaks, whether it’s just to sit there and close my eyes for a few minutes or just get up and walk around for a few minutes.”

The long term effects digital devices may have on our vision are not yet known, so doctors advise to get regular eye exams to check for any problems.

In the Plex, Diana Diaz, 7News.