Are you reading this blog post on a computer, tablet, or smartphone? In a world that is more and more lit by the soft glow of electric screens, there is some irony in telling you all about digital eye strain, but computer vision syndrome affects millions of people.
Diagnosing computer vision syndrome
The average American spends 10-12 hours daily staring at screens. How often do you check your email? Post on social media? We use our phones for everything from tracking workouts and reading recipes to checking the news and texting friends and family. It's no wonder that all this screen time can make eyes feel tired and dry.
The good news? Diagnosing this condition is relatively easy, and so are the ways to combat it. Some of the most common symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:
- Eye strain
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
Most computer vision syndrome symptoms are temporary, and they will regress after taking a break from using devices. Unfortunately, most people ignore the symptoms. If you have symptoms but don't address them, they will recur and get worse, potentially making harmless issues become a major problem.
There are some easy solutions.
1. Take frequent breaks from your computer screen
While most of us cannot afford to not work, you can reduce computer eye strain by following the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds. When you look away, focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away from you. You'll have to concentrate to focus your vision on the object.
If you can combine looking away from the computer screen with a task like getting a glass of water or using the restroom, that's even better. Several smartphone apps can help remind you to take a break. Options like Awareness, ProtectYourVision, and Time Out do a good job of reminding you to take a break and change your focus.
2. Treat the causes of digital eye strain
Staring at a digital screen too long causes computer vision syndrome, but your environments can exacerbate the issues. Some office changes you can make to help alleviate eye stress include:
- Improving your office lighting
- Reducing the glare on a digital screen
- Keeping your monitor bright
- Making sure you use an optimal viewing distance (20-28 inches)
- Improving your posture
Tip: Consider using an app to take a break and look away from your screen.
3. Invest in computer glasses
Computer glasses are prescription eye-wear that improves your eyesight when looking at a digital screen. Designed specifically for computer work, these glasses have lens that reduce glare and help you focus.
4. Use eye drops
Listen to your body. If your eyes are itching and sore, it might be because they are dry. Use regular saline, non-medicated eye drops to relieve dry eyes. While eye drops should not be a substitute for the 20/20/20 rule, regularly applying eye drops will help keep your eyes moist and able to focus properly.
5. Get your vision checked
All regular computer users should get annual eye exams. If you already wear eyeglasses or contacts, visit your doctor to make sure your prescription is correct.
Want to check for the eye strain your employees may feel at work? Our Workforce Health team can help! From ergonomic evaluations to referrals to the right specialists, they can ensure that your workforce and workplace are healthy, leading to more productive outcomes for you.