Eyes feeling a little strained lately? Blurry, dry, scratchy. It's allergies, right? Maybe but ask yourself, 'how long have I been looking at a screen today,' or 'when's the last time I looked away, or took a device-free coffee break?' You could have computer vision syndrome.
Who's most at risk? Anyone who spends three or more hours a day in front of computer monitors--sound like anyone you know? "Studies have indicated 70 percent to 90 percent of people who use computers extensively, whether for work or play, have one or more symptoms of computer vision syndrome," writes NY Times columnist Jane Brody in her 5/30/16 "Computer Vision Syndrome Affects Millions"
Managing the condition is simple, according to the American Optometric Association. "Prevention or reduction of the vision problems associated with Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain involves taking steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for screen viewing, and assuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected," reads the organization's website.
Here some more specific tips:
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- To give the eyes a comfortable focusing distance, the screen should be about 20 to 26 inches away from the face. The closer the eyes are to the monitor, the harder they have to work to accommodate to it.
- The University of Pennsylvania’s ophthalmology department advises that the center of the monitor should be about four to eight inches lower than the eyes to minimize dryness and itching by lessening the exposed surface of the eyes because they are not opened wide. This distance also allows the neck to remain in a more relaxed position.
- The screen should be brighter than the ambient light — overly bright overhead light and streaming daylight force the eyes to strain to see what is on the screen. A bright monitor also causes your pupils to constrict, giving the eyes a greater range of focus.
- Maintaining good posture and proper workplace ergonomics is also important, especially your desk chair.
- Consciously blink as often as possible to keep eye surfaces well lubricated. To further counter dryness, redness and painful irritation, use lubricating eye drops several times a day.