Do you have computer vision syndrome?
Whether it’s your PC, smartphone, laptop, digital tablet, television, or all of the above, staring at digital screens has become a way of life and is putting unprecedented strain on our eyes, vision experts say.
The Vision Council recently surveyed nearly 10,000 American adults about their digital media use and found the majority of people are looking at screens anywhere from four to six hours a day. Fourteen percent of the respondents admitted to spending 12 hours a day in front of screens.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) says an increasing number of people are experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). The term describes a group of eye and vision-related problems resulting from prolonged periods of time in front of screens.
According to the AOA, the most common symptoms of CVS are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain.
Conditions that contribute to the problem are poor lighting, screen glare and improper viewing distances, the AOA says.
Dr. Harit K. Bhatt, an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, Ill., says that in most cases the symptoms are temporary and will dissipate as people reduce their time in front of screens. But some of those symptoms may persist and need to be checked out by an eye care professional.
“If you are experiencing any of these problems even after taking time away from working in front of a screen, it may be a more serious cause,” he says. “Persistent headaches and/or blurred vision need to be checked out by a physician.”
The Vision Council has the following recommendations listed on their website to prevent eye strain.
- Consult with your eye care provider about the best solutions for your eyes and lifestyle
- Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away
- Consider using computer eyewear to help combat eye strain; products are available in prescription and non-prescription varieties
- Create an ergonomically-friendly work station with proper lighting, seat adjustments, and monitor settings
- Maintain an appropriate distance from handheld and stationary device screens
- Enlarge your computer text and browser windows for easier viewing
- Limit the amount of competing indoor and outdoor light
- Clean electronic device screens frequently to eliminate dust and glare
- Remember to blink; staring at screens can dry eyes
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