Take a quick break from staring at that research paper Word document — it will save you from more than just a headache.
Hunched over her computer, Jyoti Siegell, a junior at Mount Holyoke College, types her Bollywood cinema paper. After researching, watching movie clips and writing for the past several hours, the words blur. She blinks, rubs her eyes and blinks again. Still blurry. Her eyes tear and her head aches. She hasn’t finished her assignment, but neither her eyes nor her brain can focus anymore. I must be overtired, she concludes; but that’s not the case.
Siegell, like more than 70% of Americans who work on computers daily, has computer vision syndrome.
Many vision-related problems that arise due to prolonged computer use can be diagnosed as computer vision syndrome (CVS).
“Anyone who does work on the computer for more than three hours (a) day is susceptible to CVS,” said Vatinee Y. Bunya, M.D.,, assistant professor of Cornea and External Disease at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute and co-director of the Penn Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Center. The 2010 census found that 68% of Americans 15 and older use computers, and an average of 48% of 25- to 64-year-olds use computers at work.
Since the majority of the population has experienced symptoms of CVS, presumably most people have addressed this issue with their ophthalmologist — but in reality, most people have never even heard of the syndrome. Many assume these symptoms are normal and caused by exhaustion.
This is a problem because although CVS may not cause any “irreparable damage,” saidMichael Feinstein, O.D., of South Jersey Eye Associates, P.A., “it can be treated or prevented by minimizing and treating the risk factors.”
It is essential that schools and employers are aware of ways to prevent symptoms of CVS and that they educate their students and employees, said Mina Massaro-Giordano, M.D.,, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute and the co-director of the Penn Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Center.
Added incentive: Correcting vision problems can actually increase productivity, according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry. Vision problems, even among computer users who were not aware they had any, can reduce productivity by as much as 20%.
So how can you prevent symptoms of CVS in order to stay healthy and optimize your time?
1. Visit the ophthalmologist regularly.
“Get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist because you need to have your eyes dilated in order to properly find your prescription, and most optometrists won’t do that,” Massaro-Giordano said.
Feinstein agrees about the importance of exams.
“A thorough eye exam is very helpful at diagnosing and treating CVS,” he said. “Resting (your eyes) alone is helpful, but only minimally.”
2. Create an efficient workstation.
This allows computer users to have correct body posture and to position themselves an appropriate distance from the computer screen. Massaro-Giordano suggests making sure “the computer screen is lower than your eyes so that your eyes are more closed, allowing for less evaporation.”
Read these computer ergonomics tips for more ideas.
3. Use the right tools.
CVS is often irritated by dry eyes, so Massaro-Giordano suggests investing in artificial teardrops or a humidifier, which she said helps with 80% of the cases. She also said that advanced technology, like larger computer screens in high definition with more pixels, is less harsh on our eyes.
“Tablet format devices hold promise for improvement of CVS,” Feinstein said. “They allow you to more easily change font size, and you can hold them in a position of comfort more easily than you can make a computer comfortable.”
4. Take breaks.
Bunya encourages all computer uses to take frequent breaks.
“I usually recommend patients take breaks every 20 minutes and look at a distant object for 20-30 seconds. During these short breaks I also suggest that they blink and/or close their eyes for a few seconds.”
Educate others about computervision syndrome, and now, stop and stare into the distance for about 20 seconds — it will save you from more than just a headache.
Powered by Facebook Comments