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Computer Vision Syndrome – What is wrong with your eyes?

By Major Tom Sudsbear, General Safety Officer ADM(IM) –

Looking at a computer screen often makes the eyes work harder because of the definition of the characters, the level of contrast against the background, or the glares and reflections on the screen. As a result, some individuals may develop vision-related symptoms, commonly known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

Also, having minor vision problems can often significantly affect comfort and performance at a computer. Uncorrected or under-corrected vision problems can contribute to computer-related eyestrain. Even people who have an eyeglass or contact lens prescription may find it’s not suitable for the specific viewing distances of their computer screen.

In short, CVS is caused by:

  • Prolonged viewing of computer or any other digital media displays (over two hours);
  • Studying low contrast texts /objects on the digital screen;
  • Reduced eye movement while working in front of the computer screen;
  • Exposure to direct source of light like backlit (digital display); and
  • Poor workplace condition & improper work habits.

Staring at your computer screen without a break makes your eyes feel tired, dry, irritated and uncomfortable. Can you relate to any of these symptoms?

  • Eyestrain
  • Fatigue
  • Dry eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Burning eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Aches in the shoulders, neck or back

If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future computer use. What can you do to feel better?

  • Location of computer screen: Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 10 or 12 cm) as measured from the center of the screen and 50 to 71 cm from the eyes.
  • Light and glare: Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Arrange light so you can see your work without fighting a glare on the screen or desk surface. Shut window blinds, move lamps and reposition your computer if necessary. Increase the contrast of the digital screen.
  • Sit up: Set up your work area for comfort, safety and productivity. Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while you are typing. Your wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard when typing.
  • Blink: The blink rate reduces by 70% while working in front of computer! Make an effort to blink frequently. Blink at least 15 times /minute while working on the computer. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist. Less blinking is one of the major causes behind CVS, so blinking is very important while working in front of the computer screen. It keeps the eyes lubricated and prevents dryness. Dry eyes are uncomfortable and may be more prone to infection.
  • Get enough sleep: Fatigue and eyestrain go together!
  • Take a break: Prolonged viewing of a computer screen is the major cause of eye strain. Take frequent breaks to provide relaxation to the eyes. This can reduce the possibility of eye strain and eye fatigue. During the break, move here and there, stretch your arms, hands, shoulders and neck. Practicing few eye exercises can be helpful as well. Look away from your screen frequently. Focus on a distant object, perhaps outside the window or across the room.
  • Eyewear: Going for a regular eye check-up is the best way to prevent computer vision problems. If you are suffering from red or tired eyes, this may lead to an eye fatigue problem later on. Prevention is best and you can counteract future vision problems through regular eye exams/tests. You may require a pair of computer glasses. They are specially designed to protect the eyes from the harmful rays emitting from the computer screen and by wearing a pair of computer glasses, you can protect your vision and prevent eye strain.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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