We live in a digital world. Staring at your phone, laptop, tablet, and gaming devices for hours upon end can have a long lasting effect on your eyes leaving them tired, dry, and strained.
Our long hours staring at the computer can also put us at risk for Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). The American Optometric Association lists the symptoms as eyestrain, fatigue, headache, dry eyes, neck and back pain, double vision and blurred vision. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, up to 90 percent of Americans who use a computer for more than three hours a day have experienced some symptoms of CVS.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and suspect you may have Computer Vision Syndrome, you can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Specific testing component may include a patient history, visual acuity measurements, a refraction test to determine the appropriate lens power, and testing for how the eyes focus, move, and work together.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, some suggestions to help alleviate some of the symptoms of CVS include:
- Don’t take a vision problem to work. Even if you don’t need glasses for driving, reading or other things you do, you still may have a minor vision problem that can be aggravated by computer use. You may need a mild prescription to wear only on the job to reduce vision stress. A thorough eye exam every year for computer users is a good idea.
- Be sure your glasses meet the demands of your job. If you wear glasses for distance vision, reading, or both, they may not give you the most efficient vision for viewing your computer screen, which is about 20 to 30 inches from your eyes. Tell your optometrist about your job tasks and measure your on-the-job seeing distances. You may benefit from one of the new lens designs made specifically for computer work.
- Take alternative task breaks throughout the day. Make phone calls or photocopies. Consult with co-workers. Do anything that doesn’t require your eyes to focus on something up close.
- Minimize glare on your computer screen. Try using a glare reduction filter, drapes, shades or blinds. You can also ask your optometrist about eyeglass lens tints and coatings that can reduce glare.
- Use an adjustable copy holder. Place reference material at the same distance from your eyes as your computer screen and as close to the screen as possible. Your eyes won’t have to keep changing focus when looking from one to the other and you won’t have to keep moving your head or eyes back and forth.
- Adjust your work area and your computer for your comfort. Most people prefer a work surface height of about 26 inches for computer use. Desks and tables are usually 29 inches high. Place your computer screen 16 to 30 inches from your eyes. The top of the screen should be slightly below horizontal eye level. Tilt the top of the screen away from you at a 10 to 20 degree angle.
- Clean your computer screen frequently. Dust and fingerprints can reduce clarity.
One of the best ways you can protect and relax your eyes is with proper sleep which gives your eyes a time for rest and recovery. Ensure your eyes are getting the recommend hours of sleep to replenish necessary nutrients and be ready for the next day, for most adults that means 7-9 hours each night.
Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Optometric Association, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare.