Digital Eye Strain (DES) isn’t just caused by Blue Light. We wish it was, because then our glasses could totally solve the problem! Unfortunately, there are numerous factors that make your eyes tired and your productivity plummet by causing DES. One of the contributors can be the reduced blink rate which occurs during screen use. We know that blink rate can decrease by as much as a factor of 5 during screen use, but why?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, recently published a study that explores how our blink rates may actually change due to the type of task in which we are engaging.
“In general, blink rate decreases when more attention is required to perform a task... This is also underlined by the fact that blink rate increases with accumulating habituation to a certain task… All these findings indicate that blinks may be related to visual information processing. It appears plausible that blinks are not executed as long as information has to be processed.”
It’s important to note, however, that concentration is only one portion of several factors that contribute to reduced blink rate while using a screen. Blink rate is also reduced by the very nature of our focusing on something so close to our eyes with such intent. That said, this level of concentration during computer usage is a primary factor in reduced blinking.
Given the above, it makes sense that while concentrating on a task such as writing, computing in Excel, or digesting new information in order to complete our work in this digitally addicted age would decrease blink rate. Blinking, which refreshes the tear layer protecting our eyes and gives a brief respite to the muscles in our eyes, is important to the comfort of our vision. The less we blink, the longer our eyes are exposed to Blue Light. When we are concentrating during our daily grind it is not surprising then that blinking, or lack thereof, contributes to Digital Eye Strain. This is why the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds) is so important. Further, if you are someone who is truly addicted and using a screen more than 10 hours a day, it is recommended that you raise your blink rate and protect your eyes by using lubricating or refreshing eye drops during those work sessions that you know to be exceptionally grueling.
Adults looking at a screen less than 8 hours per day
Adults and children concerned about eye health
Block Blue Light at night to sleep