Combat Digital Eye Strain

Did you know that nearly sixty percent of Americans use digital devices for over five hours every day, sometimes using multiple devices at once—or that the average American thirteen-year-old owns three digital devices and spends seventy hours a week on them? The increasing time Americans spend looking at screens has led to increasing reports of digital eye strain, or discomfort associated with looking at smartphones, tablets, TVs, and fluorescent lights too long. Fifty-nine percent of American adults now report experiencing the symptoms of digital eye strain, which can include headaches, neck and shoulder pain, dry or irritated eyes, reduced attention span, poor behavior and irritability.

So how can we combat digital eye strain in a world that increasingly relies on screens instead of paper? Here are a few tips on how to reduce exposure to so-called “blue lights” and minimize digital eye strain.

  • Get an eye exam. Visit your eye doctor and ask about options for reducing eye strain. If you are covered under the Health Plan, please refer to the table below for network services and co-payments.

  • Maintain distance from your screens. The intensity of blue light increases the closer our eyes are to its source. It’s a good idea to maintain about an arm’s length between yourself and your computer screen, for instance.
  • Limit screen time before bed. Close to eighty percent of American adults report using digital devices, primarily TV, in the hour before going to sleep, and close to fifty-five percent use digital devices within the first hour of waking in the morning. Turning off all your digital devices a few hours before bedtime, in addition to lowering the brightness on your phone in those hours, can reduce digital eye strain.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule. Give your eyes a break. Every 20 minutes, avert your eyes from your digital device and spend 20 seconds looking at an object at least 20 feet away.
  • Update your lenses. You can find eyewear with lenses featuring magnification, anti-reflective, and blue-light blocking capabilities to help reduce the symptoms of eye strain. If you are covered under the Health Plan, please refer to the table above for network services and co-payments.
  • Reduce overhead lighting. This will eliminate screen glare, which exacerbates digital eye strain. 
  • Increase the text size on your devices. Doing so will make your screen content easier to see so that your eyes don’t have to work as hard!

For specialized lenses, contact VSP (Vision Service Plan), the Health Plan’s vision provider network, at or at (800) 877-7195.