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Computer Vision Syndrome refers to any visual strain caused by prolonged use of a computer or other screens. It is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome - a repetitive stress injury caused by moving the eyes in the same patterns repeatedly as they read, shift focus, and adjust to lighting on the computer. The unique nature of computers' lighting and the posture people commonly adopt while working with them explain why these types of injuries typically don't impact people who spend the same amount of time reading or watching television.
Some of the most common symptoms include blurry vision, headaches, dry or scratchy eyes, and a feeling of strain on the neck or shoulders. Even if symptoms are only mild, they can progress over time and cause more serious vision problems if they're left unaddressed.
Research shows that at least half of computer users experience some symptoms of computers vision syndrome, and some studies suggest that 90% or more will encounter at least mild symptoms. The greatest risk is faced by professionals whose work requires spending hours a day on the computer, and as more industries begin to incorporate computers into their workflow, more workers are at risk. Even children who use computers or tablets during school sometimes experience computer vision symptoms, so it's important to monitor their habits.
Fortunately, even those who use computers for eight or more hours a day can usually make just a few small changes that will significantly improve their symptoms. These include:
- Adjust their monitor to about 15 or 20 degrees below eye level, and positioning their seat about 20 to 28 inches from the screen. The hope is that these changes will minimize head movement, meaning the eyes need to adjust less often and the neck will face less strain.
- Adjust the screen's lighting to minimize glare, and use natural lighting whenever possible. Avoiding glares and harsh artificial lighting will make a big difference to the eyes.
- Take brief (20 second) breaks approximately every 20 minutes to look away from the screen, and then a longer break (15 minutes) every two or so hours. Giving the eyes a moment to recover will help avoid excessive strain.
- Simply try to blink more often. This sounds silly, but computer users often go prolonged periods in a deep focus where they actually neglect to blink. Simply making a concentrated effort to blink every few minutes will have a big impact on eye care.
- For patients that still experience symptoms after making these changes, an optometrist can create special glasses to wear while using the computer.
Prescott Valley Eye Care is one of the area's premier optometry offices, offering comprehensive visual examinations and care. Our office's owner and manager, Dr. Courtright, has been an optometrist for over 20 years, and he continues to be personally involved with most patients. Contact us today at 928-771-9939 to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.
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