Protect Your Eyes from Computer Vision Syndrome ?

If you spend long hours peering at brightly lit screens, you could be damaging your eyes

If you stare at a screen all day, you might suffer from computer vision syndrome

The human eye has evolved to see well at a variety of distances – up close (to find growing food) and into the distance (to hunt and for safety).

However, for many of us, modern usage involves spending long hours peering at brightly lit screens like computers, televisions and mobile devices.

Further, as we become increasingly dependent on screen-based technologies, more of us are experiencing eye strain and vision problems.

Computer Vision Syndrome on the Rise

A recent Canadian study found that people between the ages of 45 to 54 spend about 7.5 hours each day staring at a screen. The same study showed that 40% of the same group suffers from symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS), a condition that’s becoming more common every year.

The root causes of CVS are strain from focusing too closely for too long on a screen, staring at something brighter than the surrounding area and infrequent blinking. In fact, when using a computer we blink less than half as often as usual. 

Symptoms of CVS include eyestrain, headaches, difficulty shifting focus, eyes that are itchy, watery or red, blurry or double vision and oversensitivity to light. If these symptoms persist after taking preventative steps, or you notice double vision, see your doctor.

How to Reduce Eyestrain

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends these steps to reduce eyestrain 
caused by computers:

  • Position your computer arm’s-length away and about 20 degrees below eye level.
  • Adjust your computer and TV screens and the surrounding room lighting so that there isn’t a significant brightness contrast.
  • Look into the far distance for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes and for 20 minutes every 
two hours when using a computer.   
  • Set lamps so that they don’t glare off the screen.

  • Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes.
  • Remember to blink often.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.