Computer Vision Syndrome – It’s Real, and I’ve Got It

Computer Vision Syndrome – It’s Real, and I’ve Got It

With the wonders of modern technology, we’re spending more time than ever starting at computer screens, tablets, cell phones, e-readers and the like. I easily spend upwards of 10 hours a day on a laptop and it’s not because I’m some lazy millennial. It’s because I have a desk job and I also write on the side, so get off my case. Besides, I’m not the only one. Research shows that somewhere between 50% and 90% of people who work on a computer suffer from at least one symptom of eye trouble. It has been reported that we blink a whopping 66% less when we’re on our computers (or tablets, phones, etc.) This causes our eyes to dry out and burn, just two of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS.

Other symptoms of endless screen staring include:

  • Eyestrain*
  • Headaches*
  • Blurred vision*
  • Double vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain*

*indicates shit that I have to deal with on the daily

Similarly to carpal tunnel (which I’m probably gonna get at some point too, let’s be honest), these symptoms develop from repetition, and can also worsen over time. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but your peepers do a lot when you’re boppin’ around the World Wide Web. Working on a computer requires your eyes to continuously move, focus, and align with what you’re seeing. Sometimes we have to look down at something else, like a paper and then back up to our screens to type. Our eyes have to work pretty damn hard to accommodate these image changes so our brains can interpret them for us. It’s pretty taxing stuff.

Reading books is easier on the eyes because it lacks the added elements of screen contrast, glare and flicker that computers have. Computer related eye problems are more likely to occur if you already have an eye problem (makes sense) such as nearsightedness (which I have), astigmatism (got that too), or if you need glasses but don’t wear them, or wear the wrong prescription (guilty on both charges – up until last week and I got new lenses, anyway).

So how do we deal with CVS?

First and foremost we need to take care of our eyes. Sometimes glasses or contacts prescribed for general use just won’t cut it when you’re busy on your computer. Sometimes you may only need some specs for computer time. Your optometrist is the only one who can tell you, so go pay ‘em a visit. If you do need glasses for computer use, look into getting anti-glare lenses. But might I suggest, shelling out for the “premium” ones. Otherwise your glasses are basically impossible to get clean and it’s a huge pain in the ass having to look around smudges all day long. Another good tip, take a sticky note and write ‘BLINK!’ on it, then stick it to the edge of your screen. It may seem kind of silly, but I’ve been doing it at the recommendation of my optometrist and it seems to be working. Your eyes catch sight of the note and you think “oh yeah, haven’t done that in a while”. Also, there’s this thing known as the 20-20-20 rule which basically means that every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet way, for 20 seconds. This gives your eye muscles a break and also increases the rate of blinking. Bat those pretty lashes, babes!

Secondly, we can adjust our monitor position and seating position. Try to position your computer about 20-26 inches away and make sure that the top of the monitor is at a level at, or slightly below your horizontal eye level. Tilt is important too! Tiling your screen away from you at about a 10-20 degree angle allows you to create the optimum viewing angle. Make sure you sit with good posture (with your head and neck upright and in-line with your torso) to reduce neck and back ache.

Last but not least, wipe those grubby fingerprints off the screen, ya filthy animal! I know we’re all prone to petting the pretty pixelated face of our celebrity crushes every now and again, but seriously…just wipe your screen occasionally and you’ll be good to go.

Computer Vision Syndrome gets worse as we get older - imagine that - so it’s important to start taking care of our baby blues (or greens, or browns) now. Getting old sucks enough as is, there’s no need to add another thing to worry about just because we zone out and forget to blink.

Published by Jordan Trantham

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