Did you know that people generally blink less frequently when using a computer? Young or old, everybody has a bit of a mesmerized stare when they work on computers.
This is just one of many factors that can cause computer vision syndrome, which studies have shown impacts 70-90% of people who use computers extensively.
The American Optometric Association defines computer vision syndrome as:
“Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.”
Today’s work and school environments require a lot of computer use. We also use screens for all kinds of other activities, though the issues with computer vision syndrome can be tied to the kind of work we do at computers. Often that computer-based work is close, involves reading or producing text or numbers on the screen. Adults experience this in work environments, and children in school environments.
Problems arise when our close work on screens isn’t broken up by rest breaks for our eyes. Infrequent blinking is just one of several ways humans modify their behavior when working closely on computer screens. But don’t despair! We can adjust our behavior to be more eye-friendly, and also reduce other possible risks of computer vision syndrome like back and neck pain, headaches, and eye strain.
Have you ever heard of the 20-20-20 rule? The American Optometric Association recommends that every 20 minutes of close computer work you take a 20 second break. During your brief break, focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. Do you have a window in your office? Look out the window every twenty minutes. No windows nearby? Look at a book on a shelf across the room. Children will need reminders to do this. You can help children learn this by introducing them to the 20-20-20 rule and showing them how to take rest breaks. Kids may not realize how much they use digital screens since screens have become so common in both school and social environments.
Your primary eye care provider can conduct a comprehensive eye exam and screen for computer vision syndrome issues. Here at Clarendon Vision we can educate you and your family members about ways to improve your work environment so you minimize the risk of computer vision syndrome/digital eyestrain. We can prescribe lenses that are uniquely suited to limiting symptoms of these conditions. Vision therapy can also help alleviate symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Vision therapy is one of Clarendon Vision’s specialties and appropriate for patients of all ages.
If you feel that your work on computer screens or other digital devices is causing digital eye strain or have concerns about your children’s use of screens and possible issues, it’s a good time to schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam to eliminate other possible causes and to find a solution that suits your family’s needs. Call to make an appointment today.