Screens are an absolute necessity for modern living. We work in front of computers, we use our smartphones for hours each day, and we often relax in front of the television. If you stare at screens for an extended period of time you can develop a temporary condition called computer vision syndrome.
Computer vision syndrome is quite common. The symptoms are vertigo, dry eyes, eye strain, double vision, and headaches. If you use computers and screens regularly you have likely experienced computer vision syndrome.
Luckily it can be avoided. Here are five simple ways to combat computer vision syndrome:
1: TAKE FREQUENT "MINI" BREAKS
Often the most obvious solution is the best one. Spending less time looking at screens will reduce the incidences of computer vision syndrome. But we also can't simply stop using screens.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that taking more mini-breaks during the day reduces the risk of eye problems, along with neck, back, and shoulder pain. Taking four additional five minutes breaks throughout the workday improved their eye and overall health and did not reduce productivity. Keep in mind, if you are working from a computer and decide to take a break, consider an alternative to checking your phone. The idea is to give your eyes a break from any type of screen.
#2: USE CORRECT LIGHTING
Improper lighting has a major impact on the eyes. Excessively bright light, either from the window or internal lighting, needs to be avoided. Ambient lighting in your workspaces should be about half as bright as the rest of the office.
Installing drapes and blinds and using lower intensity light bulbs will reduce the impact of improper light on your eyes. Also, position your computer to the side of the window rather than directly in front or behind them.
#3: THE 20-20-20 RULE
Staring at your computer screen for an extended period will tier your eyes and can cause your eyes' focus to lock. This means you will struggle to attain a clear focus on objects other than your screen.
The 20-20-20 rule helps reduce this risk. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen and instead, focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can also practice focusing on an object that is 20 feet away for 15 seconds then one that is close for 15 seconds to really exercise your eyes.
#4: USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Check what type of monitor you are using. If you are using a cathode ray tube (CRT) you should upgrade to a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. CRT screens flicker, often imperceptibly, which causes stress on the eye.
LCD screens also come with anti-reflective surfaces that reduce eye strain. Larger screens will also help your eyes. Ensure you purchase a screen with the highest resolution as this will give you the best picture and prevent computer vision syndrome.
#5: ADJUST YOUR SCREEN SETTINGS
Check your screen brightness. Many people have their brightness permanently turned up all the way. This isn't necessary and reducing the brightness will immediately reduce your risk. Set your brightness to match the lighting of your workspace. You can download apps that will adjust your brightness throughout the day.
You can also adjust your computer's colour temperature to reduce the amount of harmful blue light your computer emits. You should switch your computer background colour from white to a light grey, this is softer on the eyes.
You should be able to comfortably read the text on your computer from a good posture in your chair. If you have to squint or lean forward to read, the text is too small.
PREVENTING COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME
Computer vision syndrome is common amongst professionals working in front of computers all day. However, if you follow our guide you can easily protect your eyes with simple and preventative steps.
It can be hard to remember to set aside time to take breaks or to continue changing your brightness settings. Luckily you can use your smartphone or computer to set reminders. If you are struggling with computer vision syndrome visit one of our optometrists at Langley Optometry.