City Research Online

TFOS Lifestyle: Impact of the digital environment on the ocular surface

Wolffsohn, J. S., Lingham, G., Downie, L. E. , Huntjens, B. ORCID: 0000-0002-4864-0723, Inomata, T., Jivraj, S., Kobia-Acquah, E., Muntz, A., Mohamed-Noriega, K., Plainis, S., Read, M., Sayegh, R. R., Singh, S., Utheim, T. P. & Craig, J. P. (2023). TFOS Lifestyle: Impact of the digital environment on the ocular surface. Ocular Surface, 28, pp. 213-252. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2023.04.004


Eye strain when performing tasks reliant on a digital environment can cause discomfort, affecting productivity and quality of life. Digital eye strain (the preferred terminology) was defined as “the development or exacerbation of recurrent ocular symptoms and/or signs related specifically to digital device screen viewing”. Digital eye strain prevalence of up to 97% has been reported, due to no previously agreed definition/diagnostic criteria and limitations of current questionnaires which fail to differentiate such symptoms from those arising from non-digital tasks. Objective signs such as blink rate or critical flicker frequency changes are not ‘diagnostic’ of digital eye strain nor validated as sensitive. The mechanisms attributed to ocular surface disease exacerbation are mainly reduced blink rate and completeness, partial/uncorrected refractive error and/or underlying binocular vision anomalies, together with the cognitive demand of the task and differences in position, size, brightness and glare compared to an equivalent non-digital task. In general, interventions are not well established; patients experiencing digital eye strain should be provided with a full refractive correction for the appropriate working distances. Improving blinking, optimizing the work environment and encouraging regular breaks may help. Based on current, best evidence, blue-light blocking interventions do not appear to be an effective management strategy. More and larger clinical trials are needed to assess artificial tear effectiveness for relieving digital eye strain, particularly comparing different constituents; a systematic review within the report identified use of secretagogues and warm compress/humidity goggles/ambient humidifiers as promising strategies, along with nutritional supplementation (such as omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and berry extracts).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Digital environment, Digital eye strain, Computer vision syndrome, Visual fatigue, Digital display, Management, Systematic review, Blinking, Nutrition, Blue-light
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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