In this day and age, more and more of us are spending hours every day in front of computers, tablets, smartphones and televisions. As a result, our eye care team has seen a marked increase in a condition sometimes called ‘cybersickness.’
This is a type of motion sickness that affects people who spend long periods of time on digital screens, causing nausea, dizziness, headaches, and eye strain.
So what are some of the signs of cybersickness, and how can they be addressed?
Headaches and Eye Strain
Some of the most common side effects of extended screen time are headaches and eye strain. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, if the screen’s brightness isn’t high enough in well-lit environments, or low enough in dark environments, you may need to squint or strain your eyes to see what’s on your screen.
Dry Eyes and Double Vision
Hours spent on screens can also promote dry eye symptoms and dry eye-related double vision. Studies have shown that people blink much less often while looking at a screen. That’s a problem, as blinking is an integral part of keeping your eyes adequately hydrated. Along with dry, itchy, red, gritty-feeling eyes, you may experience double vision, making it harder to perform normal visual tasks like reading, writing or driving.
Vertigo, Dizziness or Nausea
Vertigo, dizziness and nausea are also common features of cybersickness, as the visual and vestibular systems (the system responsible for regulating your body’s sense of balance) are intricately linked. These symptoms are caused by the imbalance between the visual information coming from your eyes, which tells the brain you’re in motion, and the physical information from the body that suggests you’re sitting still.
A Hard Time Sleeping
Your body produces a hormone called melatonin that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
The blue light emitted by digital screens has been shown to disrupt the release of melatonin, which can disrupt the sleep cycle. This means that if you’re on your computer, smartphone or tablet at night, you may be giving your body a signal to stay awake. This is a common problem for people who use their digital devices late into the night either for work or entertainment.
Our Eye Care Team’s Advice
So, what does our eye care team recommend? First of all, many of these symptoms can be stopped or at least curbed by taking a break from your screen every 20 minutes or so. This will give your eyes a chance to recharge, let you get extra blinks in, and generally break the over-concentration that digital screen use demands of the eyes.
Your eyes will feel more hydrated and more rested, allowing you to be more productive while you work on your screen, or better enjoy your digital entertainment.
Properly adjusting your screen brightness and resolution can also help reduce eye strain, as will using blue light glasses while on your screens.
Setting your screen to “night mode” after sundown, and setting down all digital digital devices at least 2 hours before bedtime will help reduce the impact of blue light on your sleep cycle.
Want to know more about cybersickness, what it is and how to prevent it? Contact our eye doctors today!
How long can cybersickness last?
In many cases, symptoms of cybersickness will go away soon after you walk away from your digital device. However, it’s not unusual for symptoms to persist from between 24 hours to several days in extreme cases. If your symptoms persist, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.
Can cybersickness be dangerous?
On its own, there is nothing particularly dangerous about cybersickness. However, in certain circumstances, symptoms can cause dangerous situations. For instance, experiencing symptoms of cybersickness such as headaches or dizziness while driving can increase your likelihood of getting into an accident.