The advancement of information technology, on top of the fast-paced innovation of various gadgets, has given rise to assorted complications to our health.
Most professions nowadays require interaction with computer screens or simple electronic devices. Outside the premise of our work, and/or during our free time, most of us check our phones or other hand-held devices.
Arguably, these trends are a cause, if not a contributing factor to different visual problems. And if you already have impaired vision, screen-time might worsen your problem, either directly or indirectly.
So what is computer vision syndrome?
Digital Eye Strain
It is a variety of vision and eye-related complications that results from long hours and unregulated use of electronic devices with digital displays. Symptoms include but are not limited to, blurred vision, double vision, dry or painful eyes, redness, irritation. Also, non-ocular symptoms like headaches, or neck and shoulder pain.
What causes it?
When our eyes focus on a single area for extended periods, it tires our ocular nerves and muscles. We need to rest our eyes because the strain eventually builds-up causing adverse effects that we might start to notice.
This gets more tiring for our eyes when we do it on a digital screen. The images on electronic screens are not motionless and flickers, which makes our eyes work harder than when we are reading. The brightness and contrast of the screen could also stress our eyes out easily.
Time flies by, especially when we’re working on something, easily drying our eyes out. So on top of the activities mentioned above, there is one special contributing factor, the blue light. Exposure to it keeps us up by decreasing melatonin (a hormone that makes us sleepy) production. How does it all add up?
Not being able to sleep significantly contributes to the strain on our eyes after undergoing activities that are naturally tiring for our ocular nerves and muscles. It is also worth noting that sleeping is the only time our eyes can rest for real.
In other words, exposure to blue light could make it worse for our eyes.
For non-ocular symptoms like neck and shoulder pain, it is most likely caused by prolonged bad posture and incorrect alignment of the screen to our eye level.
What can you do to prevent it?
To keep our eyes sharp, we should avoid straining them too much. Taking short breaks during long screen-time can significantly help to keep our eyes moisturized. Try to blink as much as you could even when working, the average blink rate should be about 10-15 blinks per minute.
After 20 minutes on screen, take off your eyes off it for 20 seconds, and look at something 20 feet away. This is known as 20/20/20 and is a popular way to alleviate stress on your eyes.
Position your screen at a 20-degree angle from your eye level, and move it around 40-75 cm away from your face this could minimize the glare you get from digital displays.
Never forget to always get a good amount of sleep among others. Other preventive measures include anti-Bluelight eyewear and eye gels or artificial tears. The use of such a measure should be consulted with your skilled, eyecare professional.