Megan Johnson McCullough — Computers are an integral part of our daily lives. Screen time is readily apart of our day be it on a computer, T.V., phone, tablet, or music devices. Microsoft estimates that its workers spend at least 6 hours per day while at work in front of a screen. Then when they get home, they spend at least an additional hour. For some, their lives consist of more screen time than sleep. This puts a real strain our eyes. Granted, many jobs require this staring, but ultimately our eyes and even our bodies are paying the price. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) can result from this strain to the eyes. Between 50-90% of adults actually have signs of CVS. Children also fall victim as they are screen time lovers.
Computer vision syndrome occurs when screen time requires the eyes to repeatedly focus and refocus. Our eyes have muscles and we test their ability and endurance daily. They have to move back and forth as you read the screen. Images in front of you are constantly changing so the brain and eyes have to work to process this information. Unlike reading a book or paper, the screen is full of lights that add glare and different shades. As we age, those muscles in the eyes do fatigue and the lenses in the eyes become less flexible. The eyes lose their ability to focus over time, hence many adults requiring glasses or contacts.
There is no direct proof that because someone is in front of screen, their eyesight has deteriorated. However, we do know that the eyes haven been excessively strained. Symptoms of CVS include headaches, dry and/or red eyes, blurred vision, or double vision. Many people neglect eye discomfort and avoid going to the doctor. However, your vision will soon catch up with you. Your body will also take its toll. Sedentary lifestyle habits lead to weight gain. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause back and neck pain from poor posture and a forward head position.
There are some simple types to help avoid additional eye strain. It is important to keep the screen at least 20 to 28 inches away from your face. You don’t want to stretch your neck either. If you have to look at documents and use the computer, try to put those papers on a stand next to the screen so that the eyes are switching from paper to screen and back to focus and refocus. You can actually adjust the brightness on your screen and don’t have to stick to the original settings. The natural light from windows and overhead lights in the building should be adjusted to avoid glare and increase shade. It is best to take a break at least every 20 minutes from the screen. Let your eyes rest and recover.
The eye doctor has been given a whole new set of clientele given the use of screen time. We love our technology and rightfully so. However, our eyes weren’t meant to stare at glare for extensive periods of time. The muscles in the eyes get tired too, even if you can’t “see” them working. Be an advocate for your health, stand up, sit up straight, and only use that screen for 20 minutes at a time.