As the population relies more and more on computer screens for work, entertainment, and communication, the number of people with eye trouble has skyrocketed. There’s even a collective term, computer vision syndrome (CVS), that covers all the symptoms: blurry vision, irritation, ocular fatigue, redness, and double vision, to name a few, notes the journal Survey of Ophthalmology.
I Screen, You Screen
Research published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics estimates that up to 9 out of 10 computer workers experience CVS. In short, the excessive screen time in our culture has resulted in eye strain becoming a common issue.
When tasked with the job of determining whether the rise in eye strain is because of monitor use or simply because people are performing more near-vision assignments in general, researchers found that screens were the common denominator for trouble. “Symptoms following sustained computer use were significantly worse than those reported after hard copy fixation under similar viewing conditions,” the report commented.
Yet before you condemn computers, TVs, and video games, consider the reason eye strain is linked to screen time: People using TV or computer monitors blink about half as often as those doing other everyday tasks away from the screen, notes EyeSmart. Since blinking is the eye’s main method for lubricating the eye’s surface, dryness increases and protection against foreign intruders is diminished. When your eyes are dry and tired, they’re not able to cope as well with everyday conditions. Minor environmental factors like diminished humidity, common bacteria, or dust can be debilitating.
Before experiencing any negative symptoms, make a commitment to prevent eye strain. Try to eliminate underlying problems that may increase your sensitivity to eye strain. For example, if you wear corrective lenses, be sure the prescription is up-to-date, and make certain your eyewear is not fitted for reading print alone. Some glasses and contacts are specially made for computer work, and your doctor can help you navigate these options. Also, use a humidifier in the winter, and avoid smoking. Decrease the contrast on your computer, and adjust the light in your office to cut glare.
Another healthy habit is to limit screen time when possible. After work, opt for a game of catch in the backyard instead of a movie with the kids. Take a walk on your work breaks instead of surfing the Web. Encourage your children to work out homework problems on paper before recording answers on the computer.
Take a Break
When prolonged computer work is necessary, simply set a timer for every 20 minutes. When the timer sounds, take a quick break to focus on things far away. If you’re worried about missing work, consider this the perfect time to make some calls, jot ideas on a white board, or close your eyes and brainstorm.
One of the best muscle-relaxing techniques is a simple massage, which takes mere seconds. With clean hands, gently push your upper eyelid against the brow bone, and slowly rub back and forth. The brow bone will provide counter-pressure, stimulating tear production and combating dry eyes. Deep breaths will increase circulation and ease muscle tension, further diminishing strain.
To See or Not to See
To be clear, monitors themselves are not bad for us. But if you’re justifying long hours at the computer by focusing on some deadline or end achievement, remember that eye strain reduces productivity, and it could take days to recover from the condition. A shift in focus, both mentally and physically, could improve your health and well-being.
For questions or comments, contact Woodhams Eye Clinic.
Image source: Flickr