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Computer strain on eyes - Computer Vision Syndrome

Eye Care for Computer users

Computer Strain on EyesWe’ve all heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps the most severe computer-related injury, but few are aware of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), the most common. The American Optometric Association defines CVS as the "complex of eye and vision problems related to near work that are experienced during or related to computer use." Symptoms of CVS are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and neck or shoulder pain.

Fortunately, making some basic changes to your work station can significantly improve the symptoms of CVS. And since March is "Save Your Vision Month," what could be more appropriate than taking a closer look at what you look at daily; your computer?

Monitor Madness

Repositioning your monitor is an easy and effective way to avoid awkward head or eye movements. It should be squarely in front of you at a distance of 18 to 28 inches, with the top of the monitor (not the screen) level with your eyes. You may also have to adjust the angle of your monitor to allow your eyes to remain in a natural position (straight ahead and slightly down). The ideal viewing angle is 10 to 20 degrees below your eye level. Remember, too, to place any copy you are working with at the same level as the screen; document holders that attach to the side of your monitor can be purchased at any office supply store.

Glare Care

Modifying your office lighting will eliminate glare and harsh reflections. First, find the source of the glare: is it coming from a window, task light, or the computer screen itself?

Adjust blinds or curtains to minimize sunlight. Turn down overhead lights so that the brightness of the screen and the surrounding room are balanced. Do not, however, work in the dark: the contrast between computer-generated light and lack of background light strains the eyes. Task lights should be positioned to provide direct light for reading and other office work but should not shine directly on the computer. Use a monitor glare screen or hood, change your monitor position, adjust your brightness/contrast controls, and use a larger text size, as display legibility is an important factor in visual performance. And get out those paper towels! A dusty, dirty screen can contribute to eye fatigue.

Take a Break

It’s easy to lose track of time at the computer. Take a break at least once an hour for about 10 minutes and blink frequently. Video display use is associated with a decreased frequency of blinking. (And a computer break is a perfect excuse to perform your Rebuild Your Vision eye exercises.) Computer use can also cause an increased rate of tear evaporation. Relieve dry, itchy eyes with artificial tears from the drugstore or supermarket.

Special Needs

Seniors should take extra care arranging their work stations. The American Optometric Association notes that workers over 50 years of age require twice the light levels of young adults for comfortable work. By the same token, very often small children share the same computer as their parents, a situation that can lead to injury, as monitor distance and position have been set up to accommodate the adults. Parents should also keep track of time spent at the computer. Parental control applies as much to taking breaks as overseeing content!

Finally, be sure not to strain and squint to see your computer screen. This can lead to a multitude of problems including headaches, fatigue, dry-eyes, and prolonged vision problems.

As with any eye care issue, discuss computer-related vision problems with a qualified professional.

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