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How to Protect Your Eyes From Mobile Phone and Computer Screens

A young man sitting at his computer desk, with his glasses off and rubbing his eyes due to strain from computer screen

Protecting yourself from digital eye strain was not always an issue. However, in this technological age, most of us spend at least part of the day looking at screens, whether a phone or computer screen.

There are a lot of myths surrounding screens. For example, you’ve probably heard that sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyesight—this myth is not backed by science. However, there’s no denying that the amount of time we spend on screens affects our lives.

Suppose there were some simple things you could do to prevent uncomfortable symptoms related to eye strain, like dry eye syndrome. In that case, you’d probably do it, wouldn’t you?

Do Phones Cause Eye Damage?

No scientific evidence links long-term eye health or worsening vision to mobile phones or any other digital screen. However, if you spend a lot of time using phones or computers, you’ve likely experienced some degree of eye strain.

While it won’t cause any long-term eye damage, digital eye strain can be extremely uncomfortable and cause nasty side effects.

The nice thing about phones is that there are usually several built-in features that help you reduce eye strain. For example, you can use night mode, which helps reduce blue light exposure. Plus, most phones have automatic lighting sensors, so the phone adjusts its brightness according to the ambient light levels for optimum lighting.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Several things about digital screen use can cause these eye strain symptoms. It may be as simple as inadequate lighting and screen glare or how you’re sitting while using the device.

If your vision is not being corrected with glasses or contact lenses, that could also create additional eye strain. Several of these causes could combine to increase the severity of your symptoms.

Common symptoms of digital eye strain may include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain
A close-up image of a woman holding her cell phone close to her face

How to Protect Your Eyes From Mobile Phone and Computer Screens

Luckily, there are several ways that you can help protect your eyes while using screens.

Get Your Eyes Examined

If you are experiencing a large number of the symptoms listed earlier, you should schedule a comprehensive eye examination to determine what your prescription is. Professionally prescribed eyewear can integrate blue light protection along with an anti-reflective coating and your prescription will help relieve your digital eye strain. If your condition is persistent, your eye doctor may prescribe special lenses called Neurolenses to treat your digital eye strain.

Adequate Lighting

If you spend long days on the computer for work, ensure that the room has proper lighting. Strange as it may sound, this doesn’t mean brighter lights. If you can avoid fluorescent lighting, do it. Otherwise, minimize the bright lights by using lower watt bulbs when possible. 

Glare Reduction

There are several ways that you can reduce glare. With a mobile phone, you’re able to get anti-glare screen covers. Or many computers are available with anti-glare screens. If none are options and you wear glasses, you can usually get an anti-glare coating that also helps block out blue light.

Reduce Blue Light

Pretty much all digital devices emit blue light. This is responsible for disrupting sleep cycles and can cause eye strain. You can combat blue light by reducing the color temperature on your screens or monitors. Some phones and monitors also have built-in blue light filters. Another great option is to get lenses with a blue light filter coating.

Follow the 20/20/20 Rule

Our eyes aren’t designed to focus on an object directly in front of us for long periods, especially on a digital screen. Following the 20/20/20 rule when performing any task close to your eyes for long periods is a good idea. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet around you. If you can do this for longer than 20 seconds, that’s ideal.

Use Night Mode

Pretty much all phones and many computers now have a night mode. Essentially, this setting changes colors and optimizes them for nighttime comfort. This is especially beneficial when you’re using screens at night. It helps reduce eye strain and disruption to your sleep.


This may seem like a no-brainer. But when you focus on work or that fun game on your phone, it’s actually easy to forget to blink. Typically your brain does the remembering for you, and you blink automatically. However, sometimes you can get so focused that it almost overrides automatic blinking. So, making a conscious effort to blink regularly is important.

Find Out More About Eye Strain

There’s no magic bullet to prevent digital eye strain because it depends on how much you use screens and what type of screens. If you’ve already tried some of these tips and still struggle with digital eye strain symptoms, give us a call today or schedule online.

The helpful doctors at 20/20 Vision Associates are experienced in diagnosing and treating digital eye strain. They’re happy to answer any questions or book an exam to confirm that there are no other underlying causes of the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Written by Dr. Cheryl Everitt

Cheryl M. Everitt, OD, received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California in 1994. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Everitt takes a special interest in treating patients with a variety of difficult eye conditions, such as chronic headaches and migraines. Dr. Everitt has been a conference speaker on topics ranging from contact lenses to practice management to trigeminal dysphoria. She has also participated in a mobile eye clinic in Riverside, and medical missions to Mexico. Dr. Everitt is one of the original founders of 20/20 Vision Associates Optometry and has practiced for 25 years. She was an associate research scientist for 4 years prior to becoming an optometrist. She is also an active member of her church.
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