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Computer vision syndrome

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Computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eyestrain, encompasses a group of vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and smartphone use, according to the American Optometric Association. With the average American worker spending seven hours a day on a computer, that’s a lot of screen time.

CVS can cause a number of problems for workers, AOA states, including eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain. Poor lighting, screen glare and improper viewing distance can contribute to these issues. So can poor posture and uncorrected vision problems.

Fortunately, many of these issues are only temporary and will stop when the worker no longer is using the computer or device. However, some workers may continue to experience problems, such as blurred vision, even after no longer using a screen device. “If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future digital screen use,” AOA cautions.

What to do

CVS can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam. If you have CVS, your eye care professional will help you come up with a plan of action. Although plans will vary by case, AOS offers general steps workers can take to help alleviate problems associated with CVS:

  • Make sure you’re wearing the right glasses or contact lenses. “Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort,” AOS states.
  • Look into vision therapy, a program that trains the eyes and brain to work together better.
  • Ensure your computer screen is properly placed. It should be 15 to 20 degrees below your eye level as measured from the screen’s center, and about 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes.
  • Prevent glare on your screen by closing blinds or drapes on windows and using lower-wattage bulbs in lamps or overhead lights. Additionally, use an antiglare screen, which reduces the amount of light reflected from your screen.
  • Keep your chair adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor.
  • Remember to rest your eyes, ideally for 15 minutes after every two hours of continuous screen use. Also, practice the 20-20-20 method: After every 20 minutes of work, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blink regularly, which will help keep your eyes moist.

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