As people have come to use technology more and more in their daily lives, we have discovered some good and bad results. On one hand, technology like smartphones makes children more able than ever to stay in contact with their parents and get emergency assistance when needed.

On the other hand, children and adults alike are more glued to their technology than to the real world, leading to conditions like computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain. It is not entirely reasonable to tell you or your children to stop using the technologies that are giving you these problems, so consider ways to reduce — or even eliminate — the problem.

What are computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain?

Computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain refer to discomfort resulting from using certain screened devices for about two hours or more at a time. These devices include televisions, mobile phones, tablets, computer monitors, laptops, and anything with a similar, light-emitting screen. Signs of digital eye strain include head, back, neck, shoulder pain, blurred vision, eye fatigue, dry eyes, or any combination of these difficulties. While blue light from a screen can cause the problem, other causes include reading text that is too small or using devices at awkward angles.

Advice to reduce both problems

Eye strain can develop into a serious problem, so everyone who uses technology regularly should have a plan to deal with it. Try these strategies:

•    Take regular breaks — Every hour or so, try to take a break of 15 to 30 minutes. This will give your eyes the rest and recuperation they need. If you find yourself always working to tight deadlines, review your habits and reduce procrastination, so you still have opportunities to rest your eyes.

•    Wear special eyeglasses — If you are too glued to your technology to take those regular breaks, buy an inexpensive pair of tinted eyeglasses. A pair may only cost $10 to $20. You can also buy a pair of eyeglasses specifically designed to help deal with blue light from your devices' monitors, such as ones provided by companies like GUNNAR Optiks,. These may run $50 to $70, depending on features.

•    Use dark themes on websites — A lot of the bigger websites offer dark themes as a display option, significantly reducing the need for breaks or special glasses. For smaller websites that do not accommodate that, you can download browser apps that either offer user-made dark themes (or other themes) for certain websites, or that invert the colors, usually resulting in a dark background.

•    Use eye drops — Medicine is available specifically designed to relieve some symptoms of computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain. Artificial tear solutions can at least help with dry eyes.

The long-term risks of eye strain

While eye strain is sometimes just a temporary problem relieved by taking a break, it can also cause long-term problems, especially in children. The best way to avoid long-term harm to a child's vision is to have a medical professional check your child's eye health. Ensure children's use of their technological devices includes the four strategies already outlined.

Keep your eyes healthy

Eye health is no less important than the health of the rest of your body. The longer you wait to protect yourself from computer vision syndrome and digital eye strain, the more likely it is that any recovery from the long-term harm will be more difficult or — even worse — unlikely.