Computer Vision Syndrome
By: Roger M. Kaldawy, M.D.
Milford Franklin Eye Center
As our scholars go back to schools and colleges, more and more time is spent every day using computer screens and our eyes are paying the price. Research shows that 25 to 93 percent of computer users experience a problem so common there’s a name for it: Computer Vision Syndrome. Symptoms include decreased or blurred vision, burning or stinging eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches and back and neck pain.
Computer Vision Syndrome is more common if we exceed 2 hours of continuous computer screen time a day. The most common causes of this syndrome include improper viewing angle or distance from the screen, glare on the computer screen, extended computer use, staring without blinking and uncorrected vision problems.
The good news is that these problems are easy to fix, and identifying and treating the underlying cause usually eliminates this syndrome. Here what you can do:
1. Adjust your viewing angle
Studies have found the angle of gaze plays a key role in this syndrome. The angle used for computer work is different from that used for reading or writing. As a result, the requirements for focusing and moving the eyes place additional demands on the visual system when using a computer. To achieve the best angle, the center of the monitor should be placed 20 to 28 inches from your eyes and 4 to 5 inches below eye level. Reference materials should be positioned so they can be seen without moving your head to look from the document to the screen.
2. Reduce glare
Letters on a computer screen are not as clear as letters on a printed page. Your eyes will work harder if there is too little contrast between letters and background or glare on the screen. This can result in sensitivity to light that can worsen under high-wattage fluorescent or flickering lights. Position your screen to avoid glare from overhead lights or windows. Close the blinds on your windows or switch to lower-watt bulbs in your desk lamp. If you cannot change the lighting to minimize glare, buy a glare filter for your monitor.
3. Rest your eyes
When using a computer for an extended period of time, rest your eyes periodically to prevent eyestrain. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer to a distant object for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a chance to refocus. After two hours of continual computer use, rest your eyes for 15 minutes.
4. Blink often
Our eyes need lubrication to see well. This is accomplished by a blinking reflex and leads to production of moisture (tears) on the surface of the eyes. People normally blink about 18 times a minute, but computer users tend to blink only one-fourth as often. This increases the chance of developing dry eye. To lessen this risk, blink more often, and refresh your eyes periodically with lubricating eye drops.
5. Get your eyes checked
Uncorrected vision problems—farsightedness or astigmatism, problems focusing or coordinating the eyes and eye changes associated with aging—can contribute to eye strain and musculoskeletal pain. Even if you don’t need glasses for daily activities, you may need them for computer use. If you wear glasses or contacts and need to tilt your head or lean toward the screen to see it clearly, your lens prescription may not be right for computer use. Having the correct prescription can help prevent pain in the neck, shoulders or back resulting from contorting the body to see the screen.
If the above measures don’t work, don’t put off seeing an ophthalmologist. If the underlying cause of Computer Vision Syndrome is not addressed, symptoms will continue and may worsen in the future. Your ophthalmologist can do a visual acuity measurement to determine how your vision is affected, test your eyes to find a prescription that will compensate for any refractive errors, and check how well your eyes focus, move and work together.
Computer vision syndrome is very common… As more screen work is needed, more eye strain can be expected. Our center and ophthalmologists have state of the art equipment to diagnose and treat many eye problems, including this syndrome. 7 dedicated eye care providers here to help you in 3 state-of-the-art facilities in Franklin, Milford and Millis. We are available and have Saturday and after-hours appointments. From the basic eye exam to the high-tech surgeries performed locally in Milford, our center is now able to better recognize and manage this problem and continue to provide world class eye care for the entire family.
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