Imagine sitting at your computer looking up your eye doctor’s phone number. The text is so tiny you squint to find the “Contact Us” tab, and it takes a few tries to hit the link. Now you locate the phone number but have to zoom in to read it correctly in the text. That said, overly small text is just one of the reasons exposure to screen devices can lead to Digital Eye Strain (DES). 

Finding this contact information may only take 30 seconds, but it should be faster. And unfortunately, even those with decent eyesight struggle to read tiny text, an issue that’s all too common on websites. 

What Exactly is Digital Eye Strain?

A wide range of factors can impact vision, including environmental conditions, allergens, room brightness levels, fatigue, and duration of computer screen time. But according to the Vision Council, tiny text and continual digital device exposure can lead to significant eye stress problems. For example, even websites with fonts that don’t initially seem small or unreadable can be tougher to read after a few hours in front of a screen. 

Prolonged exposure to digital devices has resulted in a condition known as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.  This condition encompasses several vision-related problems due to extended screen time on laptops, desktop computers, tablets, e-readers, and cell phones.

Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome Includes the Following Symptoms:

  • Eye soreness and tiredness
  • Eye strain redness
  • Eye burning
  • Eye itching 
  • Eye dryness
  • Eye watering 
  • Vision blurring
  • Headaches
  • Neck, shoulder, and back strain
  • Heightened light sensitivity 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Closing eyelids 

Do These Symptoms Sound Familiar?

For most people in our modern society, they should. Digital device usage is at an all-time high, so everyday exposure to the various screen types is typical in our social and professional lives. But, if you’re a business owner, here’s another crucial thing to consider: computer eye strain causes numerous levels of discomfort and hinders work productivity. 

To that end, those who endure eye strain pain are susceptible to making more errors and often need more breaks.

Not surprising when you consider that over 40% of adults have occupations that require at least two hours of daily screen time on smartphones, work computers, and other digital devices.¹ This over-exposure is noteworthy because your employees should have the best possible health while performing at the highest level for you. 

The statistics show the global prevalence of screen eye strain: 

  • Nearly 60 million people suffer from DES globally²
  • DES may be prevalent among 50% or more of computer users³
  • 70% of adults report experiencing symptoms of Digital Eye Strain⁴
  • 73% of adults in their 20s report eyes feeling strained⁴

However, there are numerous ways to make your website reduce eye strain for users that suffer from DES. Fortunately, your development team should have no problem accomplishing these standard coding methods (see below). 

8 Ways to Make Your Website Support Eye Strain Relief

  1. Use Larger Fonts

    Naturally, larger fonts are more visible to end users than smaller ones. A good rule of thumb is to make fonts big enough (14px – 16px) for maximum readability and to help support eye strain relief. 

  2. Use Proper Line Height Spacing

    The distance that vertically separates text can have a substantial impact on readability. The optimal line height is 24px, which makes text easier to read.

  3. Apply Strong Color Contrast to Your Website Text and Background

    Many websites use low-contrast text colors for design reasons, but this can hinder readability for people with visual impairments. Black text on a white background provides the highest level of contrast and readability. Low contrast, like light gray text on a white background, on the other hand, is harder to read and can contribute to eye muscle strain symptoms.  As a side note, there are third-party solutions for checking color contrast on your site to ensure clear readability. 

  4. Use Sub-headlines

    Most people skim online content instead of reading it. And obviously, you want to make critical points as visible as possible. That’s why it’s best to add bold sub-headlines in a slightly larger font every few paragraphs. This approach breaks up the general pattern and increases readability. 

  5. Use Bullet Points as Often As Possible

    Bullet points make content easier to read, especially for long lists or conveying the critical issues of your overall message. 

  6. Integrate More Images

    Break up the text pattern as often as possible for optimal readability. Including more Images is an effective solution because the brain absorbs visual elements faster than text. 

  7. Short sentences

    We can all agree that shorter sentences are easier to read. Therefore, a maximum of 20 words per sentence is generally a good rule, with some exceptions. 

  8. Never Make Paragraphs Longer Than 5 Lines

It’s challenging to read big blocks of text all at once. So simply add new paragraphs every 3-5 lines with enough space separating these paragraphs.

Answers to Some Common FAQS

In closing, here are three website readability tips to promote eye rest for your many online visitors.  

What are the main reasons website readability matters?

As we’ve clearly stated, website readability helps prevent eye strain for millions of people. But there are also compelling business reasons for making your site more readable. Most end users have limited time and mental capacity to absorb everything you want to convey on your website. Therefore, finding information should be quick and easy. Attention-grabbing, readable content helps you connect with your audience, communicate your value proposition, and encourage repeat site visitation. 

Why are readability issues so common?

Many web designers don’t approach readability correctly, partly because older design models no longer work properly in the modern web environment. With new ways to replace and address problematic elements, it’s now easier to support content, the primary purpose of any website. Making content as crucial as the aesthetic design is a good best practice. 

What’s the best way to test readability? 

Numerous online editing tools surmise text readability based on grade level. Most of them also provide tips for improving your content. 

Learn How UserWay Helps with Online Readability and More 

UserWay is the global leader in digital accessibility and ADA compliance, including tools that increase website readability. 

The UserWay Widget 4.0 Includes: 

  • Contrast checker: Helps prevent reading issues due to lack of contrast between website text and background elements. 
  • Screen reader: All page contents are read aloud, with no need to install an external screen reader.
  • Increased Text Size Tool: This tool tests four different levels of increased text size to make every part of your website instantly more readable.

Please contact UserWay customer service to learn more about our full range of products and services.   

Digital eye strain - Improve readability


1 Bethesda Vision Care
2 National Library of Medicine
3 National Library of Medicine
4 CooperVision