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Could Your Computer Use Be Straining Your Eyes?

September 25, 2014 | Career Blog

A vast majority of workers spend a good portion of their days glued to a computer screen. All that screen time can result in eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain – all symptoms of something called computer vision syndrome.

Reading on a computer or other digital screen is different than reading a printed page. The letters aren’t as precise or defined on a computer screen, notes the American Optometric Association. The level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced plus any glare or reflections on the screen can make viewing more challenging.

The association also points out, “Viewing distances and angles used for computer work are also often different from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for computer viewing can place additional demands on the visual system.”

Eye doctors are noticing more eye and vision problems resulting from prolonged computer use – a common occurrence in today’s digital workplace.  You may notice at the end of a long day, your eyes feel strained, your neck is tight and your vision is a bit blurry. The next morning, you’re probably OK.

For many people the symptoms of computer vision syndrome are temporary and go away after they get up from the computer. But others may experience continued problems, and employees who have underlying visions issues such as farsightedness and eye coordination troubles might discover those issues exacerbated by prolonged computer use.

According to the American Optometric Association, uncorrected vision problems can increase the severity of computer vision syndrome. It’s important to have regular eye exams and definitely make an appointment if you’re experience ongoing vision issues such a trouble focusing, blurry vision or chronic headaches.

Treatments can include eyeglasses or contacts made to handle the visual demands of daily computer use. Even people who don’t need prescription lenses are looking into “computer glasses” that help block the excessive blue light emitted from computer screens and other digital devices.

There are other ways employees can combat computer vision syndrome, and employers should take the time to educate workers on this issue and ensure they are resting their eyes and that computer monitors are positioned properly.

The American Optometric Association offers some tips for computer viewing:

  • The computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
  • Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows.
  • If it’s not possible to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus.
  • To minimize problems with dry eye, make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist.