Depending on your age, you might recall that back in the day parents were forever warning children not to sit too close to the television screen. Mom cautioned that sitting right next to the TV would hurt your eyes. What was the apprehension about? It turns out that in the 1960s General Electric admitted that some of the first televisions released into the market did actually feature screens that emitted harmful x-rays. Naturally, GE corrected the issue back in the early ‘60s, but the warning from Mom has never completely resolved itself and still continues today.
Nowadays, the same concerns about sitting too close to the television have evolved into trepidation over health issues arising from the endless hours of parking ourselves in front of computers. Staring at a phone screen or PC for several hours has become a part of contemporary life and, with it, the symptoms of computer eye strain. Office workers who toil behind a monitor will tell you that they often feel the effects on their vision. They are right. Research shows that too many hours trying to focus on computer screens does indeed cause eye problems. The most common symptoms of eye strain include burning eyes, headaches, itchy eyes, watery eyes and blurry vision.
Computer Vision Syndrome – A Common Eye Strain Issue
Research shows that 50 to as many as 90 percent of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye strain. In fact, the problem has become so commonplace that it is now known as a condition termed Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and various treatment options have been developed. Adults are susceptible to CVS and so are children who indulge in a large amount of screen time between video games, PCs and television. CVS is comparable to carpal tunnel syndrome. Basically the repetitive stress of using your eyes to perform the same type of task over and over again causes eye fatigue and the inability to retain focus.
Think about a secretary’s typical day. While sitting at a computer, a secretary’s eyes typically move back and forth, from a paper to the screen. This means the eye focus is constantly changing to complete repetitive tasks. Graphic artists also experience repetitive eye focus issues when their tasks require them to constantly change images on their screen. The constant and quick ability to focus soon fatigues the eye muscles. People who already suffer from common eyesight problems, like astigmatism or nearsightedness, may feel additional strain and weakness even faster from repeating tasks similar to these over and over.
We have no control over the fact that we all grow older day by day. As we grow older, eye strain issues can become more evident. The lens of the eye ages and becomes less flexible. After age 40, the ability to focus on far or near objects also diminishes. This additional eye strain condition is known as presbyopia.
Ways to Prevent CVS
The best way to treat CVS is to take steps to prevent the severity of this syndrome. If your life requires you to spend significant amounts of time at a computer, check out these tips on how to protect your eyes from computer screens.
Try to keep the location of your monitor away from daylight glare to reduce computer eye strain. Windows and overhead lighting cause the most glare on computer screens. Sometimes adding blinds or replacing light bulbs to a lower wattage can be beneficial.
- Anti-Glare Screen
Screen glare filters work wonders to decrease reflected light from your computer screen. Consider the purchase of an anti-glare screen filter.
- Computer Screen Location
There are ways to improve lighting and glare on computer screens at work and at home that have to do with the location of your work area. Set up your desk and chair so that your computer monitor is 15 to 20 degrees below your eye level. For optimal viewing, the center of your monitor should be 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes, according to Web MD.
- Take a Break
Resting your eyes and taking regular breaks can allow your eyes some time to refocus. A good rule of thumb is to take a 15 minute break after every two full hours of screen-viewing time.
Nothing helps refocus tired eyes better than a good blink. Blinking helps to moisten the eyes.
- Special Prescription Computer Eyewear
Individuals who do not require a corrective prescription for vision, may benefit from eyeglasses prescribed specifically for computer use. There are a variety of contact lens and eyeglass lens tints and coatings that will all limit computer glare. See your eye physician to be fitted for comfortable lenses to limit eye strain.