Computer Vision Syndrome refers to a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use, writes Shivkumar J.
What happens when you perform an action for a long duration, say bowling in a cricket match or playing tennis for several hours or typing incessantly on your keyboard all day? Inevitably, the muscles performing these functions may feel fatigued, weary or stressed out resulting in pain. In extreme cases, it may cause repetitive stress injury like a tennis elbow for people who perform heavy tasks using their forearm muscles persistently.
While we understand the implication of persistent use on the muscles of the body, we often fail to understand similar implications on the muscles of the eyes. The fact is that eye muscles too are prone to repetitive stress injury that results from continuous use and strain on a computer or other digital devices. Reading a computer screen is much different from reading a book or paper. The former is much more stressful for the eye. This is why regular computer users often complain of intermittent headaches and eye burns. It is their eye muscles complaining of excessive use.
Experts today have devised a name for the entire set of eye problems resulting from computer use. Computer Vision Syndrome refers to a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use. The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and pain in the neck and shoulder.
However, in an age driven by technology and digitization, it is hard to avoid gadgets. We as a race today are heavily dependent on digital devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, e- readers, laptops and television. Working on a computer from morning till evening, eyes have to persistently adjust to color contrasts, shifting images, and focus back and forth repeatedly. This puts a heavy strain on the eye muscles, which we often do not realize.
While we cannot do away with the use of computers and modern digital devices, we can certainly take a few measures to minimize the harsh effects on eyes and prevent Computer Vision Syndrome.
Use anti-reflection screens: Glare is caused on the computer screen when light from around the atmosphere gets reflected from it. Glare or reflections on walls and computer screen add to the eye strain. Opt for installing anti-reflection screen on your monitor. Screen glare filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen, and makes the computer screen softer on the eyes. If possible, paint your walls with a darker color having matte finish to avoid reflections or glare on them.
Give eyes a break: Avoid staring at the computers for hours at a stretch. Make sure you take a few minutes break every two hours. Just get up from your seat and look away from the system. Stretch your body, arms and back to rest the muscles of the entire body. Do not eat lunch in front of a computer, make sure your eyes are rested at least as you eat. Hold your daily meetings away from the computer screen, use a pen and paper instead to rest your eyes before returning to the screen. Take a walk around your workplace for a few minutes to give your eyes, neck and back a break.
Use anti-reflection and anti-fatigue spectacle lenses: Getting your glasses customized from your eye specialist will make it easier for you. Contact lenses lose moisture and tend to dry out during prolonged hours of computer work. It will serve you well if you opt for spectacle lenses that give correct prescription as well as protection from fatigue and glare. Even if you do not need vision correction, you are advised to wear anti-fatigue spectacle lenses while at work.
Lubricate your eyes: The eyes are lubricated when we blink. However, when we stare on computers, normal blinking can get affected. These conditions can cause dry eyes and irritation to the eyes. This is why ophthalmologists often prescribe lubricating eye drops to computer users. Ask your ophthalmologist for a suitable remedy. Blink more often and do not rub your eyes. Also drink sufficient water. It also helps to splash water into the eyes once every 3-4 hours. It calms the eyes and hydrates them.
Mind the distance and position: It also matters where your computer is placed vis a vis your seating position. Arrange a compute seat where you can sit upright with a straight back. The computer should be placed in such a way that it is right ahead of your eyes and you do not have to bend your neck much to look at the screen. Also you should not stick your eyes too close to the screen; keep a safe distance. A right position will keep the posture right and prevent pain in the neck or back. It will also cause less stress to the eyes. Fix up ergonomic furniture to enable you to position your computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The centre focus of the screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes to stabilize your neck and head at a right place.
Beware of addiction: While it is essential to work at the computer throughout the day, it is not essential to keep your eyes glued to your smartphone just to update your status on the social network or to send message. Do not let smartphones take over your lives.
The author is CEO of Essilor India