With so many of us spending time in front of the computer every day, it’s no surprise that research is showing a rise in the detection of visual problems. Depending on your vision, your eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with improper computer use.
To help reduce the risk of CVS, also called Digital Eyestrain, consider the following tips:
- Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes and 20 degrees below eye level.
- Set colour and contrast tones to suit your eyes, and match the brightness of your screen with your surroundings.
- Minimize reflected glare on your screen by using dimmer switches on lights and a protective anti-glare screen cover. Also consider positioning your screen so that it sits perpendicular to windows and other bright light sources. If you are having trouble locating the source of the glare, turn off your monitor to reveal a darkened screen, and tilt/swivel your monitor until the reflection disappears.
- Keep your screen free of fingerprints and dust, as both can reduce visual clarity.
- If you alternate between looking at your screen and paperwork, consider obtaining a clipboard that attaches alongside your monitor so that the two are at the same working distance.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away (the water cooler, possibly?). This will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
- Remember to blink! Did you know that on average we blink 12 times per minute, but when we’re on the computer, we only blink 5 times per minute? That can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial teardrops or gels and remembering to blink. Consult your optometrist to determine which eye drops are best to relieve your dry eyes.
- Ask for anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses, which can be applied at the time of manufacturing, to protect your eyes from bright and/or flickering light sources such as fluorescent lights. Your Doctor of Optometry can even talk to you about eyewear designed specifically for computer use.
While symptoms like headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes, pain in the eyes or excessive blinking or squinting are all common effects of CVS, any time you experience these symptoms, you should book an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination. These symptoms may also indicate a more serious vision problem.