Just How Bad Are Computer Screens for Your Eyes?
Nowadays, people of all ages are spending more hours focused on digital screens – whether it’s a computer screen at work, or a smart phone screen or TV screen to relax. Inevitably, all of that staring can put a real strain on the eyes.
How does the Computer Screen Affect Vision?
Computer screens affect vision through repetition. Just like repetitive stress injuries at work, continuous strain on the eyes by digital screens can result in discomfort and pain.
When you stare at a computer screen, it requires the eyes’ continual focus, moving back and forth and realigning what you are seeing. If you look down at papers then back at the computer screen, the eyes have to accommodate to changing images on the screen in order to create a clear picture for the brain to interpret.
All of these functions occur within milliseconds, and require significant effort from eye muscles. It adds more strain than reading a book or piece of paper because a computer screen fluctuates in contrast, flicker, and glare.
Symptoms and Signs
Regular computer use can be the source of significant eye strain and discomfort. If you have computer vision syndrome, you may experience some or all of these symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry, red eyes
- Eye irritation
- Neck or back pain
If these symptoms are not treated, they can have a negative effect on your work performance.
Relief and Treatment
If you work in front of a computer all day, you’re likely familiar with the above symptoms – irritated, fuzzy, and dry eyes. Just two hours in front of a screen starts to put people at risk, especially when that amount of time is easy to hit when you combine computer work, smart phone usage, television, etc. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the discomfort and potential damage:
- Use proper lighting. Reduce the glare on the computer by adjusting the lighting around you. Adjust the monitor and close the shades. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes. Position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, not front or behind.
- Enlarge the text. Staring at small text can put strain on your eyes by squinting, resulting in fatigue and headaches. Enlarge the text size and color contrast to make things easier to read.
- Give your eyes a break. When we stare at screens, we often forget to take a break. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes and either gaze out the window or around the room to rest your eyes. If time allows, take four additional five-minute breaks throughout the workday. This will increase productivity. If unsure of what to do during these breaks, stand up, move around and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck, and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue.
- Remember to blink. People often forget to blink while working at a computer. Tears coating the eye evaporate more rapidly during long non-blinking periods and can cause dry eyes. The air in many offices is dry, which can increase how quickly your tears evaporate. If you experience dry eyes, consult your doctor about artificial tears for use during the day. Try this exercise throughout the day to ease discomfort in the eyes: every 20 minutes, blink 10 times – slowly. This will help rehydrate your eyes.
- Exercise your eyes. Reduce the risk of tiring your eyes by looking away from you computer every 20 minutes, and gaze at a distant object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This encourages the eyes to relax the muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue. Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds then gaze at something up-close for 10-15 seconds. Do this 10 times. This exercise will help reduce the risk of your eyes locking up after prolonged computer use.
- Consider computer eyewear. For additional comfort at you computer, modify your eyeglasses prescription to create customized computer glasses. This is ideal if you normally wear contact lenses, which may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer usage. If you wear contacts, try silicone hydrogel contact lenses for more comfort.
If you’re struggling with an eye health problem that doesn’t appear to be going away, be sure to get in contact with Dr. Ghosheh at Advanced Eye Medical. He can help diagnose what’s causing your issues and provide you with the necessary processes to resolving it.