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Is My Phone Hurting My Eyes? Ottawa’s Dr. McLeod Answers

Is My Phone Hurting My Eyes?

Just like the muscles in your body, your eyes can become easily strained by sitting in front of a computer, watching TV, or using your smartphone. The result is a common yet aggravating condition known as eye fatigue, which can often be the sign of a more serious underlying medical condition.


Causes of Eye Fatigue


Eye fatigue is typically caused by activities that require an intense and prolonged use of your eyes, such as reading, working on a computer, driving, watching TV, playing video games, texting, and exposure to bright or dim lights.


Eye fatigue that is specifically related to digital devices (such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops) is also known as Computer Vision Syndrome. These devices are particularly hard on your eyes because when we use them, we tend to blink less. This results in dry, tired, itching, and burning eyes. In some cases, patients can develop eye fatigue in as little as 10 minutes after they start using a digital device.


Symptoms of eye fatigue


While there are a number of symptoms associated with eye fatigue, the most common are:


  • Sore or irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Sleep deprivation, allergies, dry eyes, and other issues can intensify these symptoms.


It’s also important to note that eye fatigue can be the sign of a much more serious underlying disease or condition, such as dry eyes or uncorrected vision (refractive error). So, be sure to book an appointment with your optometrist as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.


Prevention of Eye Fatigue


In most cases, eye fatigue can be prevented with a few simple changes in your work habits and environment, including:


  • Adjusting the placement of your computer monitor
  • Using a glare filter
  • Using an adjustable chair
  • Performing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
  • Taking regular breaks from the computer or smartphone
  • Applying a warm wet washcloth to closed eyes
  • Using artificial tears to refresh your eyes
  • Using an air cleaner or humidifier to keep the air clean and moist
  • Wearing specialized lenses that are designed to reduce glare and eye fatigue. This is one of the best preventive measures you can take, particularly if you work in front of a computer for long periods of time
  • Treatment of eye fatigue


If you suspect you have eye fatigue or notice any eye pain, you should book an appointment immediately with your optometrist, as it may be related to an underlying condition such as an eye muscle imbalance, or a need for a new eyewear prescription.

McLeod Optometry Clinic

Dr. Thomas Noel
Lead Optometrist



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