The newsLINK Group - Computer Vision Syndrome

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Computer Vision Syndrome Title: Computer Vision Syndrome Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: More than two hours a day using electronic devices can make anyone’s eyes tired. There’s a name for digital eye strain: Computer Vision Syndrome, and it affects as many as 93 percent of those who use a computer. Editorial: Computer Vision Syndrome 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 More than two hours a day using electronic devices can make anyone’s eyes tired. There’s a name for digital eye strain: Computer Vision Syndrome, and it affects as many as 93 percent of those who use a computer. It’s not just the traditional desktop computer anymore that can cause eye strain; you also have to include laptops, tablets, smart phones, and even e-readers — anything with a bright, interesting screen. Although not everyone who has a problem will seek medical help, some optometrists have reported that about a third of their patients have some symptoms related to CVS. How serious is the problem? In 2011, approximately 140 million people had experienced it; that number represented more than 70 percent of people who work. It turns out there’s not anything special about computers, really; you could also strain your eyes reading extremely small print for a large portion of your day. But for most people, it’s not small print that is causing a problem. It’s using electronic screens too much. Why is staring at an electronic screen a problem? There are really a couple of reasons. The first is that the eye functions best and most naturally when looking at objects located about 20 feet away. When the eyes look at something closer, they have to focus more, and that puts more strain on the eyes. Also, when anyone looks at an electronic screen, the tendency is to blink less, which in turn leads to dryer eyes. The symptoms are serious ones: vision that is blurred, difficulty in continuing to focus at close range, eyes that are dry and irritated, a feeling of being tired, and headaches. It’s harder to be productive when your eyes are not working correctly, so protect your eyes as much as possible. CVS can be a problem for adults at work, and it can also be a problem for children who spend long hours playing video games. You may not realize the need for rest; you probably take your eyes for granted, and may not even realize that a problem exists or that it needs to be fixed. Once you do realize your eyes have a problem, what can you do? One simple defense is just to take a vision break periodically. You can make it a requirement that you need to surface periodically in order to rest your eyes. Some doctors call it the 20/20/20 rule: stop every 20 minutes, and look at something located approximately 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Find an object that is located an appropriate distance from your favorite spot for using electronic media; you can also use something simple, like a timer, to remind yourself to take a break. Another rule is one you probably have already. If you have to spend many hours a day using electronic media, for work or for your own entertainment, see how much you can cut back. If you can’t cut back completely because of your work, minimize your screen time as much as possible and then watch for signs of a developing problem. If you squint a lot, you rub both eyes, and you feel pain in the head, neck, or back, the real problem might be CVS. Check to see how close you hold electronic devices. If you use a desktop computer then get the biggest monitor you can afford. Place it 20 to 24 inches away from yourself and situate it so you are looking down at the monitor with a 15-degree angle. Consider having your eye doctor prescribe a separate pair of computer glasses for you that are set up specifically for the distance between you and your computer. For handheld devices, the distance between your elbow and first knuckle is called the Harmon Distance. It should be the minimum distance between you and any handheld electronic device. Closer than that, your eyes will have to compensate by working harder. Holding a device at least that far away should be natural, so if it isn’t, there’s also a chance you have some kind of vision problem. Don’t assume things are fine; have an eye doctor check it out. Try to get outdoors about an hour a day, or at least try to spend more time somewhere you can look off into the distance a little. If you live somewhere with heavily polluted air, maybe you need a regular appointment at the gym instead of at the park. You need exercise, of course, but this