According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the average American spends a minimum of seven hours a day on their computer. This is just the time we spend using computers for work. It doesn’t include all the time we spend checking Facebook or Twitter, playing games on our phones, or shopping online.
We spend more time staring at electronic screens than ever before, and our eyes bear the brunt of the consequences of being so connected all the time. If you are experiencing chronic headaches or dry, irritated eyes, it could be a sign of a more serious technology related problem called Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome.
What is Digital Eye Strain/ Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome/ Digital Eye Strain actually refers to a group of eye related problems that come from staring at a digital screen for prolonged periods of time. Common symptoms include tired or constantly dry eyes, chronic headaches, blurred vision, and chronic neck and shoulder pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you owe it to yourself to discover the facts about Computer Vision Syndrome.
Diagnosing Digital Eye Strain/ Computer Vision Syndrome
If you already wear glasses, your regular optometrist can easily diagnose whether or not you are suffering from Computer Vision by performing a simple refraction test. If you do not already wear glasses but are experiencing symptoms, you should see an optometrist right away. The doctor will perform a regular eye exam to determine your visual acuity. Next, they might give you eye drops and observe how well or poorly your eyes focus and work together. At the end of the exam, your optometrist should be able to tell you if you are suffering from digital eye strain.
Being diagnosed with Computer Vision Syndrome is not the end of the world. There are many simple, practical steps you can take on your own to help alleviate your symptoms. The AOA recommends optimum positioning of computer screens for user comfort. Your computer should be twenty to twenty eight inches away from your face and fifteen to twenty degrees below eye level. Your eyes have an easier time processing digital images when they are looking down.
If you let your company know that you are experiencing Digital Eye Strain symptoms, they may provide you with a glare filter that reduces the amount of light emitted by your computer screen.
In some cases your optometrist may prescribe eye drops for persistent dry eye or even recommend that you wear special glasses while using your computer, tablet or phone.
Most importantly, use common sense by making sure to give your eyes a break periodically. There is a rule called 20-20-20 that most eye doctors recommend you adhere to. It’s simple: every twenty minutes, look away from your computer screen and stare at something twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reorient and can help relieve symptoms.
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