The computer has become such an indispensable part of the typical office environment that many workers spend hours at one. But staring at your computer screen for hours at a time could lead to computer vision syndrome (CVS), a condition that could temporarily affect your eyesight. It's something that up to 90 percent of computer users will experience at some point.
The following goes in-depth about CVS, what it does to your eyes and how you can alleviate and even prevent the symptoms.
What it Does to Your Vision
As you work at your computer, your eyes have to perform a lot of moving around and focusing in order to read images and text on the screen. As the text and images change, so does the amount of focus and movement needed for the brain to successfully read and interpret the content. This requires a large amount of effort from your eye muscles—so much so that they can become fatigued after a long period of computer use.
Think of computer vision syndrome in the same light as carpal tunnel syndrome; it's a repetitive stress injury that's caused by performing the same motions over and over again. Although there's currently no proof that CVS can cause long-term damage to your vision, it can produce plenty of short-term discomfort.
So how come reading a good book doesn't produce the same effects as your computer monitor? That's because looking at a computer screen demands more work from your eyes than looking at a paperback novel. In addition to the changing text and images, your eyes must also accommodate flicker, glare and screen contrast—things you wouldn't normally associate with computer eye strain.
Symptoms to Look Out For
The symptoms of CVS are relatively straightforward, in most cases. As explained above, the symptoms are not permanent, but they can last for quite some time if you're not careful. The following symptoms include:
- Blurry vision or double vision
- Eye irritation ranging from relatively mild to severe
- Chronic neck or back pain
- Dry, red eyes
Avenues of Relief
CVS may be one of the most common occupational hazards in the typical office, that doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do about it. The following shows some novel ways you can relieve eye strain and return to a normal and productive life:
- Take frequent breaks—frequent breaks will give you plenty of time for your eyes to rest, which can help alleviate the effects of CVS. A good rule to use is the 20-20-20 rule—spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away at least every 20 minutes.
- Reduce glare—Too much glare can cause CVS symptoms. The best way to minimize it is by keeping your screen free of dust buildup and by reducing the amount of light created by incandescent and other forms of lighting.
- Try massaging your eyes—"Cup" your eyes by rubbing them to create friction and then place your warm hands over your closed eyes. The warmth helps your eye muscles relax, reducing the amount of strain they've undergone.
- Blink frequently—One of the main reasons for eye dryness is failure to blink your eyes when needed. Don't hesitate to get a few blinks in as you work at your computer screen.
Although the above tips can help bring some well-needed relief, you'll need the following if you want to prevent future instances of CVS:
- Rearrange your monitor's position to minimize eye strain—Make sure your computer screen is at least 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes and 4 to 5 inches below eye level.
- Consider glasses specifically designed for computer work—Computer glasses feature an anti-reflective coating that reduces glare, thereby reducing eye strain by a significant amount.
- Keep your vitamin levels up—Keeping up your daily recommended intake of vitamins A, C, B-complex, E and Zinc can help improve your overall eye health while reducing eye strain.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you're in front of the computer and don't forget to schedule regular checkups with your optometrist through resources like http://envisionnv.com/.