Viewing a computer screen is hard work for your eyes. According to Screens, Phones, Tablets and More: Keeping Your Eyes Safe in a Digital Age, PDF a report based on a recent survey by The Vision Council, nearly 70 percent of American adults experience digital eye strain while using their electronic devices. If you spend more than two hours a day in front of your computer then you are at increased risk of Computer Vision Syndrome AKA Digital Eye Strain.
Computer Vision Syndrome AKA Digital Eye Strain Concern
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain Digital is a product of our techno-age lifestyle.
- 34% of us are in professions requiring prolonged use of digital devices;
- 30% are spending at least six hours a day using digital devices;
- and 20% are spending 10 -12 hours a day working on a digital device.
A recent Good Technology survey revealed smartphone use has meant many workers are putting in as much as a full day of unpaid overtime each week multitasking – answering emails at the dinner table, on family outings and even from bed.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain is an array of eye and vision problems related to prolonged computer use. Today, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain is the most common computer-related repetitive strain injury, surpassing both carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
The most common symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain are tiredness, sore eyes, eye strain, dry eyes, red eyes, burning in eyes, pain in and around the eyes, difficulties in focusing, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, double vision, headaches, fatigue, headaches, neck, shoulder and back stiffness and pain. These symptoms can be eliminated or reduced by assuming the correct posture and changing your digital working habits. — The Effects of Computer Use on Eye Health and Vision PDF
High Risk for Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain
When it comes to Digital Eye Strain, document use is the highest risk category of screen use because of the way type is depicted on a digital screen. The fuzzy edges to the type is one of the main causes of Computer Vision Syndrome AKA Digital Eye Strain. Type on digital devices and computer monitors is comprised of tiny pixels. Each pixel is brightest in the center, with the brightness decreasing toward the outer edges and viewing them is different from reading a printed page:
- letters and shapes are not sharply defined;
- the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced;
- viewing distances and angles increase eye focusing and eye movement requirements;
- glare and reflections make viewing difficult.
Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain
1. Get regular eye exams
Resist the temptation to buy over-the-counter reading glasses as even small inaccuracies in prescription lenses can contribute to computer vision problems. Instead have your eyes comprehensively tested and if required get eyeglasses specifically prescribed for you. For maximum viewing comfort, the lenses of your computer glasses should include anti-reflective coating and may also be tinted to reduce glare.
Eye exam frequency recommendations for people at low risk:
- Teens to Age 30: Every 2 years if you have problems with your vision
- Adults 30 to 50: Every 2 years (if you have good vision start exams at 40)
- Adults Over 50: Every 2 years
- Frequency for people at high risk (i.e. Having diabetes or high blood pressure or a family history of glaucoma)
- Teens to Age 30: At least once a year
- Adults 30 to 50: About once a year
2. Use Matte Finish LCD monitors
LCD monitors are thin, flat panels capable of displaying text, graphics, and videos. A liquid crystal display (LCD) uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals that do not emit light directly. Monitors with a matte finish are easier on the eyes than those with glossy screens.
3. Proper lighting is paramount
Reduce room lighting and eliminate glare from windows and from lamps and room lighting on your screen. (Incandescent light produces less strain than fluorescent.)
4. Position your monitor, body and source documents properly
- Center the monitor directly in front of you at an arm’s length away from you, so your body is in a neutral position, not leaning forward.
- The closer your eyes are to the object you are looking at the harder they have to work so maintain your arm’s length distance while working.
- Position the monitor at a comfortable eye level about 2″ to 3″ below the top of the monitor casing. If you wear bifocals or progressive lens make sure that you sit back in your chair to view the screen and position the monitor a little lower if required.
- Position source documents directly in front of you, between the monitor and the keyboard, using an in-line copy stand. Computing Health and Safety
5. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Read for shorter periods. Blink frequently while working and look away from your screen periodically to prevent squinting and eye muscle fatigue. For every 20 minutes of using the device, take a 20-second eye break and look at something beyond 20 feet. There are free software programs that can remind you to take your breaks like the Windows utility called Eye Defender. And, there’s more that one an app for that too.
6 tips to prevent neck, shoulder pain when using an iPad or computer, from the Harvard Health Letter.
6. Limit electronic device use
It’s likely that your eyes are working hard 56 hours a week staring at your computer screen, or at the road behind the steering wheel, or in front of your high-def TV. Note that research proves long hours at work kill profits, productivity and employees. Consistently working more than 40 hours weekly renders you unproductive and exhausted. Be aware of how long you are using digital devices and limit the strain on your eyes. The preventive approach to reducing the risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain incorporates limiting electronic device use and taking alternate task breaks throughout the workday.
7. Exercise your eyes
Take a few minutes each day to give your eyes the kind of work out they need. When doing eye exercises keep your eyes open and don’t move your head, unless the instructions say otherwise. Your body must be motionless; nothing must move except the eyes. See my Yoga Exercises for Improving Eyesight and Tips and Exercises for Improving Eyesight
8. Live a healthy life
The long-term use of computers has been linked to a range of potential health problems, or “computing related disorders” (CRDs). Researchers have linked sitting for lengthy periods with obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. — What are the risks of sitting too much?
Research shows links between prolonged sitting to increased risk for developing life threatening health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a high risk for blood clots in the legs related to excessive computer use, which is becoming known as “e-thrombosis”.
For your vision health and your over-all health it’s important to eat a healthy diet, limit electronic device use, get plenty of exercise (outdoors preferred), and get a good night’s sleep every night.
Signs and symptoms that you may be developing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain include:
- losing your place while reading
- avoiding close work
- holding reading documents closer than usual
- turning or tilting your head to use one eye only
- rubbing your eyes
1. Are you experiencing symptoms that indicate you may be developing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) AKA Digital Eye Strain?
2. How much time do you spend using digital devices on a daily basis?
3. Are you concerned about the health effects of your digital device use?