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Avoiding Computer Vision Syndrome in the Digital Age

office-820390_640-300x200Is your computer a risk to your eyesight? Staying in the know constantly, about the day’s news, family/personal safety and our work responsibilities, is not only possible; it’s often required. Not surprisingly, this “always online” culture has its upsides and downsides.

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome, as the name suggests, describes undesirable vision changes and eye problems that can occur as we stare at our laptops, smartphones and iPads, or tablet screens all day.

Signs of Computer Vision Syndrome, also called Digital Eye Strain, include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Redness
  • Blurry vision
  • Eyestrain or eye fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders

Who is Most at Risk for Computer Vision Syndrome?

As many as 90% of computer users experience visual symptoms, Computer Vision Syndrome causes more symptoms the longer you view a screen. Those most at risk include:

  1. Individuals with uncorrected poor vision or impaired eyesight; such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, irregular corneal shape (astigmatism).
  2. Individuals with eye coordination problems such as amblyopia or lazy eye.
  3. Individuals with age-related eye changes (presbyopia or inflexible cornea).

Ergonomic issues at work, screen glare, posture problems and poor lighting also contribute to the development of Computer Vision Syndrome.

How to Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

Correcting visual problems by seeing your eye care professional and controlling your viewing environment are key. Though Computer Vision Syndrome is often temporary, both eye health and overall health improve when you address it. Issues like stress and anxiety and body pain from poor posture can be reduced or eliminated when you take action to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome.

Steps to take right now include:

  1. Get an eye exam, especially if you have not had one in the past year.
  2. Ask about special computer glasses, even if you already have eyeglasses used for all-day and all-purpose wear or if you wear contact lenses.
  3. Exercise your eyes if recommended by your eye doctor. Certain eye coordination, motion and focusing issues can be improved through vision therapy.
  4. Take medication for dry eyes if prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
  5. Improve your viewing environment:
    • Adjust desk height so that your screen’s midpoint is about 4 inches below eye level.
    • Position reference documents level with the screen, or between screen level and keyboard, so that you need only move your eyes (not your head) to refer to them.
    • Sit about 2 feet from the screen. A distance of about 20 to 28 inches between eyes and screen is ideal for most individuals.
    • Adjust your chair so it is comfortable, with your feet on the ground and wrists slightly above your keyboard.
    • Adjust lighting. You need adequate light without screen glare. Replace light bulbs, change the angle/position of lamps and/or adjust window blinds. Choose an anti-glare screen or use a filter, if necessary.
  6. Take breaks if viewing a digital screen for an extended period. Spend at least 15 minutes away from the computer every two hours.
  7. Refocus (focus on something far away) for about 30 seconds every half hour, when you’ve been looking at a screen continuously.
  8. Don’t forget to blink often to keep your eyes moist when using any digital device.
  9. Incorporate yoga and eye yoga in your daily routine.

Computer Vision Syndrome: Is it Inevitable?

With proper vision care and habits, you can avoid eye strain from Computer Vision Syndrome. Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms of Digital Eye Strain, remember that a regularly scheduled eye exam is as important as a yearly physical checkup for your overall health. Call our offices in Santa Rosa at 707-546-9800 or Petaluma at 707-763-6400 or complete the contact form below.

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