Remember when we used to pull out our handy dandy notebook and pen to jot some notes down in class? Well, that has quickly changed to pulling out a handy dandy ChromeBook. Screens are all around us and continue to become an unavoidable part of our lives no matter what age group we’re in. This is not necessarily a bad thing but we do know that we have to take some precautions to protect our eyes.
Computer Vision Syndrome refers to the eye discomfort/strain that we experience after an extended time viewing a screen. Symptoms include:
- Blurry/fluctuating vision
- Stinging/burning eyes
- Watery eyes
- Tired eyes or general fatigue
Wait a second, I think I recognize some dry eye symptoms in that list from Dr. Singh’s EXCELLENT dry eye blog! That’s right! When we stare at a screen, we’re concentrating so hard that we forget to blink as often as we should. This leads to the tear film drying off/evaporating too quickly causing the above symptoms including blurry vision.
Dry eyes aren’t the only reason we get blurry vision. Sometimes, it is how the eye focuses light (our visual system) that can also create symptoms such as headaches, blur and eyestrain. These visual system imperfections include:
- Near-sightedness (Myopia)
- Far-sightedness (Hyperopia)
- “Football” Shape of Eye (Astigmatism)
- Age-related Reduction of Near Vision (Presbyopia)
Headaches and eye-strain can also be the result of the 2 eyes not cooperating as well with each other, A.K.A. binocular vision issues.
Finally, we’ve all heard something or another about blue light and how it can negatively affect our eyes. Although there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that blue light damages our eyes, some people do find that it causes symptoms of eyestrain and headaches.
Now you ask, I know what can go wrong but how do I protect my eyes? Here are a few tips:
- 20/20/20 Rule: For every 20 minutes of near work, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet in the distance (far out a window). This can help reduce the tension on the eye muscles + increase your blink rate.
- Dry Eye Treatment: As discussed in the dry eye blog (check it out!), there are many ways to relieve these symptoms including artificial tears, which can provide that extra lubrication. Furthermore, your eye care practitioner can examine your eyes to determine the best treatment plan for you!
- Optimal Glasses Prescription: Your eye care practitioner can help determine what prescription would work best depending on your unique situation (the distance between you and your screen, where it’s located – higher/lower, your work demands, etc.). You could also improve the comfort of your eyes at a screen with a selection of coatings including blue-light blockers, anti-glare coatings (or both!).
- Binocular Vision Therapy: If needed, there is eye muscle training that can help the 2 eyes work together as a team.
So, visit your optometrist to help determine whether any or all of these conditions are affecting you and what solutions work best for you – your hard working eyes will thank you for it!
Dr. Manvit Singh