If 2010 has taught me anything, it is that our lives are becoming increasingly digital. Not only is more of our work performed on computers and online, but much of our leisure time, too. This is illustrated by the fact that Amazon has recently announced that it has sold more Kindles than any other book or product. But all of this time in front of screens can take its toll on our eyes. They may become irritated and red. Your vision may become blurry or double. And all this may make you less productive at work or reduce your gaming performance. All of these symptoms are elements of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Fortunately, there are things that you can do limit the effects of CVS.
Every new year I provide the Bright Eyes Family Vision Care Top Ten New Year's Resolutions. In past years, I've covered eye health, children's vision, and saving money. So for 2011, to help you keep your eyes in optimum condition at the computer or digital device, this year's resolutions list will help you combat Computer Vision Syndrome.
1. Take Breaks - Your eyes work hard when using the computer, e-readers, and phones. Give them some time to relax. Use the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. Every hour or so, talk a longer break. I use and recommend a free application called Workrave that is fully customizable to help you remember to give your eyes (and hands) a rest.
2. Monitor Settings - Today most people have LCD screens. Generally, the larger the screen the better. Increase the font size if it helps.
3. Monitor Position - Position your monitor at least 22 inches away and at an angle that you don't have to look up most of the time. Making it a natural, comfortable position can help limit eyestrain and neck problems.
4. Blink! - Research studies show that people blink less when using the computer, up to 1/3 less. Blinking washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears, so be sure to blink on a regular basis.
5. Glasses - Make sure you have proper lenses for the computer. Specially prescribed computer glasses may help significantly reduce the symptoms of CVS. Often these are different from glasses for driving and general activities like shopping. Ask your optometrist if you would benefit from computer lenses.
6. Lighting - Keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum. Keep your desk lamp or window light shining on your desk, not on your monitor. Try to keep window light off to the side, rather than in front or behind you.
7. Position your chair - Your body position effects your eye position - and vice versa. Make sure you are sitting in a chair with adequate lower-back support. Position your chair so that you are comfortable. Each person has a preference for his or her chair, so take some time to find what’s best for you.
8. Eye exams - Be sure to discuss CVS with your optometrist at your annual eye exam. He or she will discuss your computer use and can perform specific tests to determine if you would benefit from computer glasses, eye drops or medical treatment.
9. Gadgets - iPads, Kindles, Blackberries and other mobile devices are hugely useful, but have tiny screens and can cause even more symptoms than a desktop computer. Be aware of issues like glare and be sure and take frequent breaks.
10. Don't forget the kids! - Keep in mind that children can experience CVS, too. And they are less self-aware and are less likely to tell parents if they are having problems. So set limits ahead of time and watch them for any signs of visual problems. This applies to hand-held games, too - especially soon to be released Nintendo 3DS.
If you didn't have a thorough eye exam in 2010, don't put it off any longer. Give us a call at 813-792-0637 to schedule your appointment. We'll make sure your eyes are working their best at the computer! You can also read more about Computer Vision Syndrome on our blog.
A special thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Anshel of Corporate Vision Consulting for providing input for this list.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
I used this in my face book to followers. I’ll let you know if people comment.