The inflation of screen time

A recent very extensive, scientific poll of the broad audience of our Instagram followers revealed 13 out of 13 respondents had an increase in computer/device/screen time in the last two years that was directly related to the pandemic.

Well, it might not be from an extensive or scientific survey’s results – we do feel confident that a lot of us are staring at a computer or another type of screen for more hours per day than we did a few years ago. Or if someone is not – it’s possible they always did most of work on a screen. And that’s a key word too – working – we’re working on screens, staring at text, graphs, spreadsheets, zoom calls with less face to face meeting breaks or interruptions.

And your eyes are feeling it.

This topic is now brought up with almost every patient in the exam room with Dr. LeClaire and Dr. McEathron. Dr. LeClaire said the only patients she doesn’t talk about screen time with are the youngest ones! Our doctors have a few recommendations for helping your eyes cope with screen strain. They explain there are three main causes for the computer strain:

– fatigue in your eye muscles caused by staring at a fixed distance for long periods of time
– irritated, dry eyes created by staring without blinking enough. Normally we blink every 4 seconds, on a computer it can be between 40 seconds between blinks!
– the glare from devices causing additional visual strain

Here are some steps to take to address these three causes for eye fatigue directly:

  1. Schedule an eye exam. There are two reasons this is a great first step, first – you might need a new prescription. Eye strain can change your prescription more quickly than usual. In addition, our visual needs at computer distance are often different than your needs for driving or reading. During an exam, the eye doctor will take a look at how screen time is affecting your eyes’ health and offer suggestions. As mentioned above, when we’re concentrating on a screen our blinking often lags behind what our eyes need to stay hydrated, healthy and feeling good. The symptoms you experience and the doctor will observe are dry eye indicators. The doctor will be able to tell by taking a close look at your eyelids and cornea and make a recommendation for lubricating drops (many are over the counter!) and how often to use them to help your eyes. In Whatcom County? Schedule an eye exam with our doctors here.
  2. Take frequent breaks. It’s hard to remember as we work away, so we recommend setting a timer. Set your watch or phone for 20 minutes and every time it beeps, look away for twenty seconds and hit the reset button on the timer to start again. A common rule is 20-20-20, every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. During this short rest time, concentrate on taking intentional full blinks. Blinking fully and more often will activate the oil glands in your eyelids and help hydrate your eyes. Changing your eyes’ focal distance and reducing the glare stare consistently throughout the day will make a noticeable difference.
  3. Speaking of glare… if you’re already looking through glasses and then at a screen there will be light bouncing around that plastic lens in front of your eye creating noise and distraction to your visual system. Make sure your lenses have a high quality anti-reflective coating to minimize the additional straining effects of glare on your eyes. Also, in your home office/work space/work area design- think about the lighting and whether or not it is contributing extra glare to your work area. This article from one of our favorite resources, “All About Vision” describes this more in point 9: It has some other fantastic tips on this topic also.

We hope we’ve offered a few easy ideas to help with screen-induced eye strain. While we can hope screen time inflation will go down – it’s hard to say if and when that could happen so please, take care of those eyes in the meantime.

Glasses of Binyon – Andy Thom

There’s a story behind every pair of glasses…

… and in Andy’s case, it’s two pairs of glasses.  As systems administrator at a local credit union, Andy spends between 10-14 hours per day in front of a computer screen.

systems administrator wearing the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi photographed by Katheryn Moran PhotographyAll Photos: Katheryn Moran Photography

Andy has worn prescription computer glasses for several years.  Before the specialized glasses, his eyes were always tired and he fought daily headaches. In contrast, Dr. McEathron’s computer prescription brings the screen into focus for Andy and relieves his eye strain.

systems administrator wearing the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi photographed by Katheryn Moran Photography

Digital Eye Strain

The Vision Council ( defines digital eye strain as physical discomfort that can occur after 2 hours of computer or other digital device use.  Types of physical discomfort include eye fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and neck and back pain. So, why does digital eye strain occur?  When you work at a computer, your eyes are having to focus and refocus as you read, look at your keyboard, look around the room and back to the screen.  In addition, the screen adds constant glare, contrast and flicker – plus it emits high energy blue light.  Blue light gives screens their brightness. Likewise, that bright, high energy light that can overload the visual system and add to the eye strain.

systems administrator wearing the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi photographed by Katheryn Moran Photography

Shamir Blue Zero                                                 

Andy’s most recent lenses, computer glasses, use a new material called Shamir Blue Zero.  This material absorbs blue light, but appears clear unlike many blue-light blocking products that have a yellowish tint.  Finally, it combines excellent blue light protection with optical clarity- something that’s not available with any other similar product available on the market.  Blue Zero is available in single vision, office progressive and general progressive lenses manufactured by Shamir USA.  Contact us if you have questions on availability of this material.

Furthermore, when he’s not on the computer, Andy wears a different pair of glasses.  These are his distance prescription so they work well for driving, watching movies and hiking with his wife and dogs. He finds himself putting them on as soon as he goes away from the computer because he likes seeing the world around him more clearly.

systems administrator wearing computer glasses the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi photographed by Katheryn Moran PhotographyAndy is wearing the OGI Eyewear 4807 in grey demi.

Thank you to Andy for participating in this photoshoot and your feedback on your computer glasses.
Grattitude to Camber Coffee for allowing us to use your beautiful location.
Much appreciation to the very talented Katheryn Moran of Katheryn Moran Photography.

Digital Eye Strain – Problems and Solutions!

Digital Eye Strain Exposed

Do your eyes feel tired, uncomfortable, achy or strained after at least two hours on a digital device?  A few facts on digital eye strain from the Vision Council:

  • Nearly 90% of American adults use a digital device for more than 2 hours per day.relieving digital eye strain
  • Over 60% of American adults use a digital device for more than 5 hours per day.
  • 65% of Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain including neck and back pain, eye fatigue, blurry vision, headaches and dry eyes.
  • 90% of Americans do not discuss their digital device usage with their optometrist.
  • 27% of Americans do not realize that computer eyewear can help protect against digital eye strain.


Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms after extended digital screen time?

  1. Eye strain
  2. Headaches
  3. Neck and/or back pain
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Dry eyes

Relief is here!

A conversation with the optometrist is the best way to start the process to relieving your digital eye strain.  The doctor can write a prescription if necessary that will relieve the strain on your eyes while working at a particular distance.

If you are presbyopic (the age-related inability to see up close) there are some specialized progressive lenses that can provide optomized for vision at multiple distances. These take into consideration keeping your head in an ergonomically correct position.  A great example is the Shamir Autograph II Office Lens- specifically designed to provide a comfortable field of view between 15′ (seeing the wall clock) and looking at the computer or phone screen.  Many of our patients wear these lenses throughout their workday with much appreciation. They report rested eyes and greater energy at the end of the day.

A good option for a younger patient who is in front of the computer all day but strictly farsighted or nearsighted is a single vision computer prescription.  Our patient Zac reports:

After purchasing my first pair of computer glasses, I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my energy and clarity.

Digital Eye Strain-Lenses

In addition to specific lens styles, there are also lens options that are designed to relieve digital eye strain.  These two products discussed below specifically target filtering out high energy blue light from device screens.  Blue light has a very short wavelength. Therefore it produces a higher amount of energy. Studies suggest that exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause short term and potentially serious long-term damage to your eyes.

BluTech irelieving digital eye strains a subtly colored lens filter available in specific lens designed  to filter out blue light.


Similarly, Crizal Prevencia anti-reflective coating combined a non-glare coating with a high-tech filter to significantly reduce the amount of blue light getting into the eye.

There are many more details to discuss with one of our opticians on which lens options might be best for you and your workspace.  Stop by soon to talk to us about getting the relief your eyes need today. Look forward to less strain and more energy!