Headaches. Dry and itchy eyes. Blurred vision, sore shoulders, muscle spasms and involuntary twitches. All of these are symptoms of digital eye strain caused by hours of staring at screens. It's no secret that technology causes some unique health problems, but what is alarming is the scale.
A survey from The Vision Council found that 90 percent of Americans look at digital screens - a computer, smartphone or tablet - for more than two hours per day. Nearly 60 percent of those people use their devices for more than five hours per day, with 70 percent of them using two or more of their devices at the same time.
That's certainly a lot of screen time. What are the consequences? More than 65 percent of Americans have had symptoms of digital eye strain, including neck, shoulder and back pain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
It's a problem that is on the rise, but luckily, there are things you can do to save yourself the headache. Surprisingly, 27 percent of Americans don't know that you can prevent symptoms by wearing special glasses designed to protect against digital eye strain or cutting back on your screen time.
There's also this free download that I use personally. It's called f.lux and it automatically adjusts your monitor's color temperature at nighttime. It shifts your monitor to a red tint, which is less disruptive to your sleep pattern.
f.lux automatically detects your geographic location and will begin adjusting your display to your time zone. Note: You can change your location to match your schedule. Just click on Settings.
If you need precise colors while you edit photos or do other color-sensitive tasks, you can disable f.lux. Or, if you want to watch a movie and have the colors look right, you can put f.lux in Movie Mode. This disables f.lux for two and half hours.
Note: If you first install and run f.lux at night, your monitor will suddenly take on a serious shade of red. Give yourself a little time to get used to it. If the colors still don't seem right, you can adjust the warmth setting to what's most pleasing to your eyes.
Click on one of the blue links below. Click on the blue tab Download f.lux. Open the Windows .exe file (or .app file on a Mac), when it's installed, you should see f.lux's control panel. Adjust your daytime/sunset/bedtime settings accordingly. The screen effect should be instantly noticeable. To revert back to your original settings, just quit f.lux.