Headaches, blurry vision, dry, red and irritated eyes, neck and back pain – do any of these sound familiar? These are the signs associated with computer vision syndrome. Also referred to as CVS, computer vision syndrome isn’t one disorder, necessarily. CVS is a collection of symptoms that deal with eye strain and pain that stem from using electronic devices like computers, tables and cell phones for an extended period of time. Adults and children can be affected by CVS.
Here are some ways to combat computer vision syndrome.
Optimize Your Viewing Angle
This may seem minor, but it can make an impact on CVS symptoms. Optimizing your viewing angle means you’ll have better posture, which helps reduce strain on your neck and back, and also means you’ll put less strain on your eyes. Research has shown that the center of your monitor should be between 20 and 28 inches from your eyes and about 4 to 5 inches below your eye level. Experts also suggest that if you have to keep looking back and forth from your screen to another project, keep the project close to your screen to avoid extraneous head movement.
Rest Your Peepers
This is probably the easiest to do and the most frequently ignored, Avoiding eye strain and the symptoms of CVS can usually be avoided by simply resting your eyes. Every 20 minutes of work, look at an object 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. People often get caught up in their work and forget to do this – but there’s a simple fix – set an alarm! If one minute of eye rest for every hour of work can help prevent eye strain, it’s worth it!
Glare is a major contributor to eye strain. I find that reducing glare isn’t something that people are often aware of at their work stations. When sitting at your computer or looking at your phone, make sure you’re not getting glare from an outdoor window or overhead lights. Changing the contrast on your screen to reduce the amount of blue light you’re seeing can do wonders in reducing eye strain, and in turn the symptoms of CVS. Fortunately, many digital devices now have settings that allow you to adjust display lighting and font size. Some devices automatically shift the colors in your display from a cooler to warmer light output in the evening and then return to regular settings in the morning. Most can also be manually turned on and off.
Remember to Blink
It’s not unusual to “zone out,” especially if you find yourself caught up in a big project or paper that requires a lot of concentration. But staring at a screen for long periods without blinking can leave your eyes dry, irritated and tired. We blink to relieve eyes and lubricate them. This is why it’s so important to train yourself to blink during your work sessions, Not only will it give your eyes an opportunity to lubricate themselves, but it can also help you refocus while you’re working – so it’s a win-win!
What kind of eye problems are you noticing from your use of electronic devices? Leave a comment below!
Dr. Amita Patel is an optometrist at Kelsey-Seybold’s Clear Lake Clinic. Her clinical interests include glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. She has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease.