If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic, chances are you’ve felt the fatigue of Zoom. All day calls done online can make us feel sick, tired, and dizzy. Turns out there is a word for this: cyberskickness.
What is cybersickness?
In short: cybersickness is feeling sick from excess screen time. Doctors suggest that scrolling on a screen for a long period of time confuses the body into thinking that you are moving. And it’s the conflict of feeling like you’re moving when you’re not that creates cybersickness. It’s more common in virtual reality where 20% to 95% of users experience it. And highly likely for professionals who spend all day in front of a computer.
Confused if you’ve ever experienced it? Symptoms can include: dizziness, nausea, eyestrain and overall fatigue. And unfortunately, the effects can live longer after exposure (up to 7 hours later), impacting hand-eye coordination, visual functioning and general well-being.
What causes cybersickness?
Essentially, your body senses where you are through your eyes and ears. And when your eyes think you are moving (because they are) but your body is stationary, it creates a conflict and sends the body into a frenzy. Similar to car sickness, where your body is feeling the motion of the car drive and your eyes are attempting to concentrate on a stationary object (the book). You end up feeling nauseous or dizzy because your brain can’t quite sort out what you want it to feel like, motion or stillness.
How to cure cybersickness
Sadly, not looking at a screen isn’t an option for many of us. Experts suggest immediately looking at the horizon or something that is not moving, the moment you feel symptoms.
A big factor of cybersickness is quarantine eye strain, intense eye strain from doing nearly everything on screens the last 14 months, leading to increased headaches. For a while I was having really itchy eyes. As the weather is changing, I equated it to seasonal allergies. That is, until I discovered eye dryness can come from looking at a computer or digital devices for too long, making your eyes feel tired and overused. It turns out, when you look at a device, you don’t blink as frequently and your eyes get dry — leading to discomfort. It can start to affect your vision immediately or over time.
Unfortunately, eye strain can trigger headaches. If you have pin pointed that eye strain is causing your headaches, you can try some preservative-free artificial eye drops to ease the dryness. We also recommend incorporating more electronic breaks throughout your day.