If you and your laptop are joined at the hip, give it a rest. Spending extended time on your computer may prove hard on your eyes, leading to a condition you may not have heard of before: computer vision syndrome.
Computer vision syndrome is a group of eye- and vision-related problems. People who spend two or more hours in a row on the computer are most likely to develop it.
When you work on a computer, you tend to look straight ahead for long stretches, work in a dry environment, and blink less often than usual. In addition, your eyes need to work harder than they do when you read a printed page. All of these factors can contribute to the problem.
Common symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eyestrain, blurred vision, and dry eyes. But it can also cause headaches, neck aches, and shoulder pain. And the more time you spend on the computer, the worse your symptoms may be.
Less time at the keyboard isn’t an option for many people. To keep your eyes healthy in this high-tech age, try these tips:
• Get regular eye care. Have regular eye exams to make sure your eyes are healthy and you have the right eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Underlying vision problems that aren’t corrected can worsen the syndrome. Also, some people benefit from wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses made specifically for computer use.
• Blink! People blink about half as often when using computers and digital screen devices. Blinking keeps your eyes moist. Put a note on your computer that says, “Blink!”
• Take breaks. Use the “20-20-20” rule to help you remember to take regular breaks. Every 20 minutes, glance away from the screen and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
• Improve your workspace. Make sure your computer screen is 20 to 26 inches away from you and that the center of your screen is about 4 or 5 inches below your eye level. Sit with good posture in an adjustable chair to allow flexibility. Your chair height should be set so that your feet rest flat on the floor.
• Adjust your screen. Use the highest resolution your monitor will support. You might need to increase the font size, too. Adjust the contrast so letters are easy to read, and set the brightness level to a comfortable intensity. If possible, change the lighting in your workspace to reduce glare on your computer screen, or use a screen glare filter.
Talk to your Rite Aid Pharmacist to find out if moisturizing eye drops could be right for you.
“Eye Health Tips.” Vision Health Initiative, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_health_tips.html.
“Computers and Your Eyes.” Prevent Blindness America. www.preventblindness.org/computers-and-your-eyes.
Computer Use and Eyestrain. eyeSmart, American Academy of Ophthalmology. www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/computer-usage.cfm.
Computer Vision Syndrome. American Optometric Association. www.aoa.org/x5253.xml.
Five Common Eye Myths.” Eye Care America, American Academy of Ophthalmology. www.eyecareamerica.org/eyecare/news/csave-your-sight-month-2010.cfm.