Computer Vision Syndrome!
Computer Vision Syndrome is a real condition. In today’s society we all use computers extensively for work, at home, and for fun. It is not just computers. We now have smart phones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, notebooks, etc. Why is it that computer viewing is so much worse that reading a printed page? Letters on a computer screen are not as sharp, viewing distances and angles are different, the contrast is reduced and there is more glare.
Computer Vision Syndrome is defined as any eye or vision related problem that occurs from extended computer use. We have all experienced symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. A few of the symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, red eyes, scratchy eyes, burning eyes, neck and shoulder pain. Typically the eye discomfort and vision problems worsen as computer use increases. Symptoms usually resolve if computer use stops, but if nothing is done to resolve the problem symptoms will continue and possibly worsen.
What can be done to prevent symptoms? The first and most important thing is have a comprehensive eye examination to make sure any uncorrected vision problems are corrected like farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, dry eyes, eye focusing problems, and eye coordination abilities. Sometimes a special eyeglass prescription is need specifically for the computer. Others may need vision therapy, a program of visual activities prescribed to improve eye focusing and eye coordination. Often while using computers the blink rate slows causing the eyes to dry out. Making an effort to blink can help prevent dry eyes, but others may need artificial tears to prevent the eyes from drying.
Secondly, make sure the work area is set up appropriately, including lighting, glare, viewing distances, and seating posture. Set the computer screen at a 20-28 inch viewing distance and 15-20 degrees below eye level so the eyes look slightly downward. Position the screen to avoid glare from overhead lights and windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows, use lower wattage bulbs on lamps, anti-glare screens, and anti-glare coatings on glasses to reduce glare and reflections. Make sure the chair height is set so that the feet are flat on the floor. Every 20 minutes, look up to take a 20 second break, which allows eyes to refocus. When on the computer for longer periods of time larger breaks are needed. For every two hours of computer use the eyes need a fifteen minute rest.
Our eyes are amazing organs that are constantly adapting to our ever changing environment. Remember to take care of these amazing organs by having regular eye examinations, get the appropriate eye wear or therapy, set up your work space correctly, take breaks, and keep your eyes moist by blinking and/or using artificial tears.