Computer Vision Syndrome – Huh?
Eyestrain is far more common in this visually-driven society we live in than people might realize. In fact, countless people suffer from eye strain without knowing that it’s a condition that should be avoided, recognized and treated. Any activity that intensively engages eyesight can cause eyestrain (also known as eye fatigue or computer vision syndrome). Extended time spent reading and/or writing (hard copy and electronic); driving; using computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.; playing video games and even watching television can contribute to eyestrain.
Eyestrain is known to affect between 50% – 90% of people who work extensively on computers with numbers expecting to grow due to the prevalence of smartphone usage. Not only is the prevalence of use high along with the number of hours users stare at these small screens, the very use of these devices requires people to hold these gadgets close to their eyes to read the small font sizes—this combination is a perfect storm for eyestrain to occur.
If you experience any of the symptoms of eyestrain, it is important to not just ignore the symptoms or risk prolonged problems with eye focus (farsightedness in particular), loss of productivity and discomfort. These symptoms include:
- Sore/irritated eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Dry eyes or tearing eyes
- Difficulty with focus, especially at a distance
- Neck, back and shoulder Pain
If you experience symptoms of eyestrain, one of the most important things to do to help heal eyestrain is to get plenty of sleep. Sleep replenishes the eyes with nutrients and allows the eyes to rest and refresh for further use the next day. Prevention is the best first step to take to help protect your eyes.
Here are a few prevention tips from organizations such as Prevent Blindness, the National Eye Institute, and Get Eye Smart, which recommend the following strategies to maintain eye health:
Check out your computer screen:
Make sure your screen is about 20-25 inches away from your eyes and below eye level.
- Keep your computer screen clean – dusted and debris and fingerprints removed to prevent additional glare and resolution reduction.
- Take measures to reduce glare – use a screen that tilts and swivels, use a glare filter over your screen for further protection and use lighting that will reduce glare.
- Use a document holder to easily read from a hard copy and your computer screen without having to adjust focus too much.
- Adhere to the 20-20-20 rule: stare out at a distance of about 20 feet for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes of computer use.
- Blink – this isn’t a joke. Actually remind yourself to blink as studies have found that computer users tend to blink less, which deprives the eyes from refreshing as often as they should.
If you have eyestrain, use these natural remedies:
- Rest your eyes while applying a warm, moist washcloth to closed eyes
- Use saline-based eye drops to refresh your eyes when they feel dry
- Use an air purifier filter to help remove dust and pollutants from the air and if needed, a humidifier, which will put moisture into dry air
If symptoms of eyestrain persist despite using natural interventions, do consult with an ophthalmologist or at least an optometrist to investigate the potential of further issues through an eye exam. Eyestrain can also be caused by a physical problem including an eye muscle imbalance condition. A new eyeglass prescription may also be helpful.