Has the amount of time you’ve spent looking at a computer screen or other digital device in the last year increased? While many of us have jobs or hobbies that have us in front of screens for prolonged periods, the challenges posed by the pandemic have seen our screen use increase even more, as activities that we would have previously engaged in person – meetings, school, etc – have been forced online.
Unfortunately, prolonged or excessive use of screens can put a significant strain on our eyes. There are several reasons for this. The first is that our screens typically sit at an intermediate distance from our faces. If you wear glasses or contact lenses because you are nearsighted or farsighted, your vision will be corrected for the type of refractive error that you have, and not for this intermediate distance. This means your eyes will have to work harder to see the content on the screen clearly, especially if you are switching between looking at papers on your desk and your computer screen. Secondly, viewing things on a screen in itself can be straining. Depending on how bright your screen is, the colors on the screen and if there is a glare, patients can find that their eyes are under much more strain than usual. Finally, poor posture, which causes you to view your screen from an abnormal angle, can also contribute to unpleasant symptoms associated with prolonged digital device use. The effects of doing this are often referred to as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.
What are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. These include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Eyes that feel dry and stiff
- Painful eyes
- Excessive watering
- Eyes that feel very tired and heavy
- Neck and shoulder pain
In most cases, the symptoms are temporary and will start to reduce once you stop using your digital device. However, sometimes the symptoms persist for longer. They may occur alone, or in combination with one another.
Is There any Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome?
The best thing that you can do for computer vision syndrome is to make sure that you take regular breaks from the screen to let your eyes relax and your focus adjust. However, we understand that this isn’t always possible, especially if you are very busy at work. Fortunately, there are a number of other things that you can do to help.
20/20/20 rule: if you don’t have a lot of time for breaks, you could follow the 20/20/20 rule instead. This is where, every 20 minutes, you look at something that is at least 20 feet away from you for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Enlarge the text on your screen: this will make it easier for you to read without straining your eyes as much.
Position your screen carefully: the optimal workstation has a screen that is around 20-28 inches from your eyes and sits so that the center of it is around 4 to 5 inches below eye level.
Sit comfortably: your feet should be flat on the floor, with your back supported so that your posture is straight, rather than hunched or slumped.
Consider using a screen glare filter: these sit over the top of your screen and reducing glare from natural light or light sources that could be straining your eyes.
Drink plenty of fluid: staying hydrated is essential for all body functions, including keeping your eyes lubricated and comfortable.
Remember to blink: blinking may be a subconscious action, but studies show that we blink much less when we are using digital devices. Take time to remember to blink as often as you can during the day as this will encourage tear film over your eyes, keeping them comfortable.
Ask your eye doctor about blue light glasses: these are special glasses that have lenses that are specifically designed to help you see clearly at an intermediate distance, making them ideal for computer work.
Visit your eye doctor regularly: uncorrected vision problems are a major cause of computer vision syndrome. Regular visits to your eye doctor at Clarke EyeCare will help ensure that you don’t need glasses or contact lenses, or that you are wearing the right prescription for your need.
If you have further questions about computer vision syndrome, contact Clarke EyeCare Center in Wichita Falls, TX at (940) 905-0700 to schedule an appointment today!