The digital age has made life easier than ever before, but it does have its drawbacks. If you spend a considerable amount of time staring at screens (and who doesn’t?) you may be damaging your eye health. Called computer vision syndrome, this condition is rising in prevalence, which is no wonder considering that Americans spend an average of 11 hours a day interacting with media.
At Urban Eye Care, Dr. Jennifer Andrews and our team offer a wide range of optometry services that are designed to help patients see well into the future. Increasingly, more of our patients in Seattle, Washington, are coming in complaining of eye strain, so we decided to pull together a few tips to help you avoid computer vision syndrome.
1. Give them a break
Your eyes are meant to take in the world around you, and they’re constantly adjusting and refocusing. When you spend hours looking at the same screen, at the same distance, your eyes are locked into position, which can cause considerable strain. Imagine that you sit in a crouched position for hours on end without a break — your muscles would cramp and tighten. The same thing happens to the tiny muscles in your eyes.
A great tip for computer users is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Better still, every hour, get up and walk away from your computer. You can go talk to a colleague, use the restroom, or just take a spin around the block.
2. Seeing the light
One of the main contributors to computer eye strain is a room filled with fluorescent lighting or windows that let in abundant light from outside. Ideally, you want the lighting in the room to be similar to what you have on the screen, without a harsh contrast.
To block out excessively bright light, try using blinds on sunny days and avoid bright overhead lighting. Instead, use floor lighting with softer bulbs that provide more soothing light.
You can also adjust the lighting on your computer screen throughout the day. You don’t want your screen to be excessively bright, but also not too dim. Try and find a setting that blends in with your ambient lighting.
3. Minimize glare
Along the same lines as lighting, you want to reduce the amount of glare around you when you work. If your office has bright, white walls, consider moving to a workspace that has more neutral tones (or repaint the room you’re in).
You can also purchase anti-reflective computer screens, which go a long way toward reducing glare.
Lastly, if you wear corrective lenses, we urge you to come see so that we can outfit you with anti-reflective lenses.
4. Blink and hydrate
Every time you blink, you’re spreading critical nutrients across the surface of your eyes and hydrating them. Unfortunately, when people stare at screens, they tend not to blink as much, which can lead to dry eyes. Be mindful of blinking as much as you can when you’re working at your computer.
If you have dry eyes, come see us so we can set you up with eye drops that help keep your eyes well-lubricated and hydrated.
5. Position matters
This last tip not only helps with computer vision syndrome, but tech neck, as well. The position of your screen matters, so make sure that it’s at eye level when your head is up and looking straight forward. Sitting hunched over and looking down at a screen isn’t doing your eyes, or your neck, any favors.
If you suspect you may be suffering from computer vision syndrome, we urge you to contact us so that we can check your eyes and provide you with more tips.