If you use a computer regularly, whether for work or play, you may be at risk for a harmless-but-frustrating condition called computer vision syndrome. This transient and temporary visual disorder causes a wide range of symptoms and can affect patients in very different ways. Thankfully, the condition is easy to treat and prevent. From ergonomic computer placement to rest, there's plenty you can do to avoid the problem. In this article, you'll learn about three smart ways to help reduce your risk of computer vision syndrome.
Diagnose and Treat Underlying Conditions First
If your eyes are already experiencing strain, adding on the strain of staring at a computer screen all day may increase your risk of experiencing computer vision syndrome. It's a bit like placing weights on your arms and legs, and then going to the gym to work out on the weight machines--instead if battling one issue, your eyes are battling two. It's also far more difficult to determine which symptoms may be coming from a condition like amblyopia or astigmatism rather than digital devices.
If you begin to have visual symptoms while using the computer, like headaches, dry eyes, or blurring, schedule an appointment with your optometrist to rule out other issues first.
Use Moisturizing Eye Drops
Your eyes need moisture for both comfort and optimal vision performance. Lubrication in the eye not only makes it easier for your eyes to move around freely, it also helps to ensure that messages are relayed through your cornea and on to the brain correctly. When you stare at a single light source, such as a monitor, the rate at which you subconsciously blink may be reduced. This is what makes your eyes feel hot and tired after a long day at a computer.
To combat this, use a good moisturizing eye drop every couple of hours. Plain saline works just fine, but if you find it isn't enough, you may need something stronger. Prescription solutions make treating chronic dry eye easier by encouraging the eye to create more lubrication at the source.
Work in Breaks For Your Eyes
When someone says their eyes are tired after a long day at work, that's a fairly accurate statement--the longer you spend staring at a monitor without looking away, the higher the level of strain on your eyes. Working in breaks at regular intervals gives your eyes time to reset and may reduce some of that muscle exhaustion.
Try to look away from your computer screen for at least a full minute every 20 minutes. Glancing at an object more than 20 feet away is best, but even looking across the room will help to refocus your eyes. If you're finding yourself too distracted to remember to look away, a number of apps will alert you to take a break right from your workstation.
Alternatively, consider using the Pomodoro technique to schedule your day. This strategy offers frequent breaks that help to split up your day, ultimately encouraging better productivity. During your breaks, step away from your computer completely to rest your eyes.
Set Up Your Monitor At the Right Distance and Angle
As computers became more popular in the 1990s, so, too, did the use of ergonomics to make working at a computer more comfortable. Society now knows that positioning both your own body and your computer parts correctly can help to reduce repetitive strain injuries. Having your monitor placed at the right level and angle for your height and work style can and does help to prevent harmful eye strain and computer vision syndrome.
The optimal distance to view your monitor is somewhere between 18 and 24 inches. The correct height for your monitor is just an inch or two below eye level--never above or off to the side. Generally, if you have to turn your neck to see the screen, your monitor isn't placed correctly.
Don't forget to position laptops correctly either--always set them down on a hard surface, following the same rules as closely as possible. Avoid the temptation to work from bed or in areas with low lighting.
There's no denying that computers are helpful. Just as with any other work tool, it's important to use your computer safely to protect your vision. If you've attempted these three tips and still find yourself experiencing symptoms like blurring, dry eyes, or headaches, home treatment may not be enough. A qualified eye doctor can provide you with vision therapy for optimal healing. Contact an optometrist today to see if vision therapy is right for you. Click here to continue reading about optometrists and vision therapy.
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