Understanding and Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome
How do you feel after a long day sitting in front of the computer? It’s common for employees to experience eye strain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, dry eyes, and other symptoms if they are looking at the computer too much.
These eye-related problems fall into the category known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Since the population spends a great deal of time using laptops, tablets, e-readers, and smartphones, CVS is becoming a wide-spread concern for people of all ages. These devices are used for both work and entertainment, which means that some people spend upwards of 10 – 12 hours a day looking at screens.
Why You Need to Learn about Computer Vision Syndrome
While it’s unavoidable to use technology in our modern world, there are things that you can do to minimize your symptoms and ensure your comfort throughout the day. Learning about computer vision syndrome is the first step to reduce your neck and shoulder pain and also protect your eyes.
The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shared a statistic that people who look at a computer for 3 or more hours each day have a 90% chance of developing symptoms of CVS. The most common symptoms are eye strain, neck and shoulder pain, blurred vision, and headaches.
The good news is that these symptoms are temporary – if you stop spending so much time in front of a computer, then you will notice an improvement in your symptoms. But the frequency and length of time looking at the device can impact overall symptoms, sometimes causing a person to experience continued symptoms throughout the day. Not only will your eyes be impacted while looking at the computer screen, but you might also notice a difference during other daily activities.
CVS: Prevention and Treatment
Instead of popping a pain reliever because of neck and shoulder pain, it’s better to talk to an optometrist about diagnosis and treatment options. Many of the treatment suggestions also work as preventive measures. Instead of waiting for the symptoms to get worse, it’s important that you are proactive about prevention right away. Here are a few tips to help:
- Screen Distance: The screen should be positioned slightly below eye level, and you should make sure the monitor is about 20 – 28 inches away from the face.
- Glare and Lighting: Check the settings on the computer to see if there are options to reduce the glare. It’s also important to consider how the lighting in the room and the illumination on the screen are impacting your eyes. For example, you will likely notice more eye strain when looking at a computer screen in a dimly lit room.
- 20-20-20 Rule: Pay attention to the time you are using the computer. The general rule of thumb is to limit yourself to 20 minutes of screen time, then take a break. During this 20-second break, look at something that is at least 20 feet away to give your eyes something else to focus on.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of talking to an optometrist about your eye health concerns. Scheduling regular eye exams is an important step to prevent computer vision syndrome.