Common eye problems—and ways to avoid them

No matter what job you do these days, chances are you’ll find yourself staring at a screen for at least part of your day. Computers and smart devices have made such an impact on our working lives, it’s almost inevitable you’ll use a desktop, laptop, or mobile at some point in your day-to-day work routine.

Of course, while all this technology is great for simplifying and organizing our work, it does come at a price. Long exposure to computer and device screens has been proven to have a detrimental effect on our eyes, often leading to bigger problems in the future. Couple this with the fact that our eyesight degrades over time through the natural aging process and it would seem only sensible to take steps to look after our sight. 

Eye issues caused by screens 

Between computer screens, laptops, TVs, gaming systems, and our cell phones, it’s estimated the average American spends almost seven and a half hours per day in front of a screen of some variety. Due to the blue light emitted by these devices, over 50% of people who work with computers complain of digital eye strain (DES)—a very common form of eye damage. Symptoms of DES include headaches, itchy eyes, eye irritation, dry eyes, or eye fatigue. 

Other eye problems that develop from aging

Unfortunately, aging also often causes other eye problems including presbyopia, glaucoma, dry eyes, macular degeneration, and cataracts. In the majority of cases, early diagnosis will help prevent eye damage so you must visit an optometrist regularly. By age, the regularity of eye appointments is suggested to be: 

  • One appointment in your 20s
  • Two appointments through your 30s
  • One appointment aged 40—with follow-ups as required
  • Every 1-2 years when you reach age 65

Thankfully, most eye disorders can be relatively easy to treat if found early and eye surgery technology has improved dramatically in recent years. For example, cataracts can be resolved with a simple operation as detailed at, to remove the cloudiness from the patient’s sight. As ever, prevention is better than cure, so be sure to visit your optometrist regularly.

Precautions we can take to keep our eyes healthy

Just like other forms of health and fitness, there are certain precautions we can all take to look after our eyes. Following a few simple steps will improve your chances of avoiding problems with your sight, while also improving your overall health and fitness. 

Of all the steps you can take to maintain your eyesight, visiting an eye specialist regularly is the most important and will help diagnose problems early. This becomes even more important if you are overweight, have a family history of eye disease, or are Hispanic, African American or Native American (each of which has a higher prevalence of eye problems).

In addition, quitting smoking, taking regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet will also reduce the risk of developing eyesight problems—particularly in later life. Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB radiation protection, even on cloudier days, is also recommended. 

Lastly, if you work frequently at a computer, aim to take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest. Follow the rule of 20: every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and focus on another object around 20 feet away for 20 seconds.