Staring at computer, tablet, or mobile screens for hours at a time is a normal part of our lives in the 21st century. Unfortunately, eye problems associated with this activity are also on the rise. Even if you have never had eye problems before, you may have noticed computer vision syndrome symptoms after two or more hours of screen time. Symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Eye strain and discomfort
- Dry, scratchy eyes
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
Such symptoms can be a real nuisance and distraction from work or entertainment. Even if your symptoms are mild, they can worsen and cause other vision problems if not addressed. We can help.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Computer Vision Syndrome
The severity and length of computer vision syndrome symptoms depends on how long you stare at the computer, your posture, lighting, glare, the angle of the monitor, and whether or not you have other vision problems. If you already suffer from astigmatism, farsightedness, presbyopia, and/or diabetic eye problems, your computer vision symptoms may worsen. This can even be the case if you already have prescription contacts or glasses. Standard eyeglasses and contact lenses are not designed to minimize or eliminate the specific problems caused by computer usage.
Once diagnosed, the doctor can design a treatment plan to help relieve your computer-related eye symptoms. For people with otherwise normal eyes and vision, a set of specially-designed glasses used during the time you are working on the computer can be very helpful. For patients already wearing contacts or glasses, often more computer-friendly prescriptions are available. In addition to these treatment options, there are a few simple changes you can make to your work environment to help alieviate your symptoms:
- Computer setup—Adjust your monitor so that it is about 15-20 degrees lower than your eye level when seated between 20-28 inches away from the screen. Reference materials can be placed on a document holder between the monitor and keyboard, or to the side, but positioned for as little head movement as possible. Also invest in an anti-glare screen for your monitor to help reduce glare from surrounding lights. Be sure to sit and work with proper posture.
- Adjust Lighting—If you can, reposition any lighting (or your computer) to minimize glare and use natural lighting whenever possible.
- Proper Clothing — light or bright colors and patterned clothing will reflect more light causing more glare and reflections on your screen which can be very distracting and cause eye fatigue. Always try to wear solid color dark clothing that is all one color.
- Eye Rest Breaks—Every 30 minutes during your work, look away toward a distant point (>10 feet) for 20 seconds to refocus your eye muscles. This serves the same purpose as standing up and stretching does for your posture relief. Take a 10-minute break away from your work station every 2 hours.
- Moisturize—Staring at a computer screen causes us to blink much less frequently causing dryness and irritation. Try to blink more frequently to keep your eyes moist. If that doesn't work, frequent use of non-prescription moisturizing eye drops (not for allergies or redness) can also help relieve strain and fatigue.
With a combination of proper professional and self-care, you can control Computer Vision Syndrome and enjoy problem-free hours at your computer.