Computers can strain your eyes; in fact it’s the leading cause of eye strain in the United States. Doctors call it computer vision syndrome (CVS). It affects 90% of the 70 million people whose work requires them to use computers for more than 3 hours a day. As our lifestyles become more and more centered around the internet—socializing on Facebook, shopping, paying bills—it can actually affect anyone. Even you. Here’s an overview of computer vision syndrome and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why do computers strain our eyes?
Mother Nature designed our eyes for viewing things in open spaces and at distant objects, the needs of a typical ‘hunter gatherer.’ So, it’s unnatural for us to stare at a fixed object just a few inches away from our face. When we do this for several hours a day, nearly every day of the week, our vision can be affected. Effects include nearsightedness or far sightedness, deteriorating eye coordination, and eye-focusing disorders. Computer use can also lead to dry eyes, because of a tendency—still unexplained—to blink less often when looking at a close object.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome
Typical signs of computer vision syndrome include blurry eyesight, headaches, and nausea. You may also notice that your eyes are reddish or dry; some even experience a burning sensation. Others notice that they have trouble refocusing on objects at a different distance (like when somebody calls you, and you have to turn your head to look across the room). Extreme cases may suffer subtle changes in the ability to perceive colors.
Your work area could be aggravating computer vision syndrome!
Your working conditions can also contribute to computer vision syndrome. Do you have poor lighting? Is the computer screen too bright? Is there glare on a screen, from light reflecting from a window or badly positioned light source?
How to protect yourself from computer vision syndrome
Doctors recommend having your eyesight checked once a year, so you can detect and correct any nearsightedness, farsightedness or other vision problems. Report any problems of blurring or color perception.
To prevent dryness, consciously blink more often, and apply eye drops. Position your computer so you’re not in direct line of a fan or airconditioner.
And take lots of short but frequent breaks, such as 5 minutes every half hour, or 10 minutes every hour. Do eye exercises to strengthen the muscles of your eyes.
Computer vision syndrome can also be controlled by setting up your computer in a way that will reduce strain on your eyes. Your face should be about 20 inches away from the screen. Angle the monitor at 10 to 20 degrees. Invest in a monitor that has a high resolution and a refresh rate or flicker speed of 70 Hz.
Lighting is also a big factor. Too much light can cause headaches, so the brightness of your lamps or bulbs should only be about 3 times more than your screen . For greater control, use a direct light from a desk lamp instead of an overhead light. If you have windows near your computer, control the glare with curtains or venetian blinds.
Photo from sumnergroup.com