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ToolBox Tuesday – Computer Eye Strain

Today we’ll talk about a growing problem around the world as technology continues to bombard our lives at work and at home eye strain. As more people use computers in the workplace and at home, complaints of eye fatigue, difficulty focusing and discomfort have become commonplace. Computer video display terminals don’t damage vision, but you might still experience eyestrain. Humans normally blink around 15 times each minute. When staring at screens, this number decreases to a half or third that often. That can lead to dry, irritated, and tired eyes.

Eye strain caused by screens has its own name. It’s called computer vision syndrome (CVS). Currently there is no evidence that CVS causes any long-term damage. However if these symptoms are not properly treated your work can suffer and the discomfort will continue. According to experts, computers do not emit any harmful rays to cause damage or ‘burn’ the eyes, however it can be uncomfortable if there is a glare or if the lighting of the office or computer is too bright.

In a study published by the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers examined computer
use and its effects on the eyes of university students in Malaysia. Almost 90 percent of the 795 students had symptoms of CVS after just two continuous hours of computer usage. Fortunately, rearranging your computer workstation, taking more frequent rest breaks, or getting proper glasses can often relieve these symptoms, says Academy spokesperson Ruth Williams, M.D.
To pinpoint the cause of your discomfort, first get an eye exam by your ophthalmologist, who can rule out the possibility of eye disease as the cause of your symptoms. You may find you need glasses when working at a computer, or that your prescription needs updating.

Next, take a look at your computer workstation: Screen distance: You should sit about 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little farther away than reading distance, with the top of the screen at or below eye level. Equipment: Choose a monitor that tilts or swivels. Adjust them appropriately for the lighting in the room. Use a glare reduction screen
on the monitor if needed. Furniture: An adjustable chair is best. The top of the monitor should be at eye level. Place the monitor on a stand if needed. Rest Breaks: Take periodic rest breaks, and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out. Give your eyes a rest. Move them up, down and to both sides focusing on something at least 20 feet away. While you’re resting your eyes, it’s also a good idea to get up and grab a drink of water to keep yourself hydrated. If your body is hydrated, your eyes will be as well. Drinking green tea during your break may help even more. That’s because green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that may help your eyes produce tears for better lubrication.

The 20/20/20 rule, if followed, helps reduce fatigue and eye strain. It is pretty simple and states: Every 20 minutes, take at least 20 seconds and look away from your work/screen and focus on something else that is at least 20 feet away from you. Seems like a pretty simple rule but it can be very effective in reducing the strain on your eyes by taking that short break every 20 minutes. In addition it is suggested that you take this little mini-break to do the following to help reduce muscle fatigue throughout your body:
Get up out of your chair Blink your eyes rapidly to propagate tear production Stretch your legs and arms Walk around if you are able. Turn your neck and move your shoulders around.Try this the next time you find yourself spending a lot of time in front of the computer screen.

Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes, stretch and look at something else at least 20 feet away. You probably get absorbed in reading or work when you’re looking at screens. Setting a timed reminder to pop up can help you take a break every 20 minutes. There are also free apps like Eye Care 20 20 20 that can help. Just click start when you begin your screen time, and the
app will remind you to take a break.