Computer Vision Syndrome – Are computer screens damaging your eyes?
Screens are central to our world these days and computer vision syndrome is likely to happen if you rely upon your screen to get work done so can our eyes cope with it?
We have put together common symptoms as well as reasons for eye strain and helpful tips to minimise its effects below…
Why do people get Computer Vision Syndrome?
With many people spending eight hours per day looking at their work screen, interspersed with checking their phones and then another session at home browsing online.
Laptop, tablets, phones and sat-nav systems are just some of the devices that many of us use daily.
The stare factor
Scientific research has shown that on average we blink every other second, so in a 30-second span, we blink 15 times.
When we concentrate on a task on a screen, research has shown that this blink rate drops significantly; to as low as just two or three times in that same 30-second span.
Reduced blinking means the tear film evaporates which is why many people feel their eyes are dry or sore or gritty after a heavy session on screen.
Do you have tired eyes?
Looking at a close object, like your phone means there is an extra demand on the focus muscles.
This can cause fatigue in some people, resulting in a focus that comes and goes, or blurred vision.
Other eye muscles also have a huge role to play in screen work, scanning the screen is demanding on the muscles that move your eyes up, down, left and right.
This can cause the eye muscles to go out of balance, making them slightly misaligned, which puts huge pressure on the visual system causing headaches.
The effects of Screen Glare
Screen Glare is another issue and is closely interlinked with focus. If the focus of the eye is fatigued, we become more sensitive to the glare of the screen.
If you are glare sensitive then it is harder to focus properly – and so we enter a vicious cycle that limits our concentration when we work, to a point where it is stressful.
Can screen work impact on other tasks?
Consider your drive home after work. If your eye focus is fatigued, it is no surprise you feel blurry when you then drive home afterwards.
Our tired eyes will not be able to cope with oncoming headlamps as easily.
To sum up, although there is no scientific evidence to say that all this screen work will damage your eyes, it is one of the most visually demanding things we ask them to do.
Poor screen habits and inefficient visual systems can cause all sorts of problems for you, from the obvious eye aches and headaches to the related dry sore eyes or even neck and lower back problems as you change your posture to focus better.
Poor eyes and screen work can even increase the wrinkles around your eyes and forehead as you screw up your eyes to focus.
Tips to help avoid Computer Vision Syndrome
A good optometrist will ask you how much screen work you do, where your screen is positioned, how many screens you are using and give you bespoke advice to suit you rather than just issuing you a pair of glasses.
Here are 3 tips to ease computer vision syndrome:
1. Take regular breaks – remember 20/20
Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, look 20 feet away and blink 20 times.
This rests your focus muscles, reminds your brain that there are other distances to focus on and refreshes your tear film.
2. Be choosy about your set up
For most people sans serif fonts are kinder on the eyes than text like Times Roman.
Change your background colour – the extremes of black on white is demanding on the glare sensitivity systems. Different people have different colour preferences, so play around.
3. Choose your eyecare team carefully
You want an optometrist that is prepared to listen to how you work.
You want a qualified dispensing optician, should you need glasses to make sure they are set up properly or you will put a strain on your neck as you change your head posture and work your eye muscles.
Go by word of mouth recommendation rather than special offers because you are trusting them to look after your vision for the long term.