Parish Nurse Corner

Our parish nurse Jan Sandos provides us with a monthly column keeping us informed of pertinent medical information.

Matthew 6:22 – The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Blue-light Eye Strain

Every day, adults and children access digital devices for work, entertainment and education.  Often, we spend hours watching videos, reading books and articles, or catching up with friends on social media.  But there are some possible health issues we need to be aware of.  Visual fatigue or eyestrain is an increasingly common condition resulting from constant digital usage.

Many people suffer from eyestrain without knowing the actual cause.  Symptoms of visual fatigue may include watery, dry, tired, burning, or stinging eyes; difficulty focusing or concentrating; sensitivity to light; and headaches.  Some symptoms have lasting effects that cause discomfort long after devices have been put away.

One primary cause of eyestrain is the blue light that emits from most digital devices and electronics, like LED lights, TV, computer, phone, and tablets.  HEV (High Energy Visible) blue light has a shorter wavelength than other lights in the visible spectrum causing light to scatter more, decrease contrast, and strain the eyes.  Because modern technology usage and demand leads to increased exposure to digital screens and decreased exposure to outdoor activities, many people experience symptoms of digital eyestrain.

Eye strain is also worsened due to close proximity of the eyes to the screen when using computers, phones, or tablets.  People tend to hold objects closer and for longer periods of time without changing focus.  This causes the eye muscles to become fatigued and unable to relax when shifting focus back to distant objects.  The eyes also blink less frequently when focusing on near tasks, leading to dry eyes, itchiness, and burning sensations.

Visual fatigue can be diagnosed through routine eye examination.  While it may not be possible to limit our use of screens, there are computer glasses with a special blue light protective lens coating to filter out those harmful HEV lights.  They cut down glare, increase contrast, improve sharpness, and decrease eye strain all while using digital devices.

Optometrists also recommend that patients observe the 20/20/20 rule while doing near tasks to relax the eye muscles and improve visual comfort:  take a 20 second break after every 20 minutes of near work by focusing on objects that are 20 feet away.  Also, the use of lubricating drops or artificial tears throughout the working hours can minimize eye dryness.  With children, parents are urged to limit screen time and to encourage more outdoor activities.


Taken from Healthy Living Made Simple/Sam’s Club



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