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More and more we spend time looking at screens – television, computer, smartphones, game consoles. So much screen time puts a strain on our eyes, so much so that there is now a name for it: computer vision syndrome, or CVS. Although it was first recognized primarily among office workers, it is now a common problem among teenagers and children as well. Thankfully, for most of us the condition doesn’t cause permanent damage; however, for many it does cause significant, avoidable discomfort.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME?

The symptoms of computer vision syndrome typically aren’t serious, but they can interfere with our ability to enjoy life and be productive at work and at school. Symptoms include:

  • Eye strain
  • Eye redness, irritation, or dryness
  • Burning sensations
  • Blurred or double vision after computer use
  • Headache, neck ache, or shoulder pain

If you experience blurred or double vision that doesn’t resolve shortly after you finish screen-related activities, or that occurs without using computer or other screens, seek immediate medical help. Blurred or double vision in the absence of screen use may be a sign of larger problems.

WHAT CAUSES COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME?

Computer vision syndrome, although not strictly related to computer screens, is typically caused by:

  • Poor lighting or glare on the screen
  • Poor posture or poorly positioned screens
  • Dry or already irritated eyes
  • Uncorrected vision problems
  • Incorrect eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions

HOW TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM

In most cases, correcting the problems that cause computer vision syndrome are easily fixed. First and foremost, have a thorough eye examination. You may find it helpful to have glasses specifically prescribed for use with computer and other screens. Once you are sure that you have the proper glasses or contact lens prescription, follow these steps to reduce problems associated with computer vision syndrome:

Blink — Often, when using computer and other screens, we don’t blink quite as frequently as we should. This leads to dry eyes. Blink frequently, and if necessary, use lubricating eye drops.

Take breaks and limit screen time — If your job involves using a computer all day, take a break every 15 to 20 minutes to look away from your screen for 15 to 20 seconds. For recreational screen use, including for children, take a break of ten minutes at least every hour. Also, limit screen time for children.

Position and posture — For computers, hand held game consoles, and smart phones, the screen should be at arm’s length, and ideally positioned so that the center of the screen is several inches below your eye level. Your neck should feel relaxed as you work or play. Ensure that you are using proper posture as well to reduce strain on the neck and shoulders.

Clean and glare free — Regularly clean your screens, and if possible, use anti-glare filters. Also adjust lighting to reduce glare and ensure a comfortable level of light. A quick trick is to shade the eyes by cupping your hands over the face like a baseball visor. If this relieves your eye strain, the lighting may be too bright or at an improper angle. If you aren’t able to adjust the lighting, consider wearing a hat with a brim or visor.

HELP! I’M STILL HAVING PROBLEMS!

If you have tried the above tips and still are having screen-related problems, call Silverstein Eye Centers to schedule an eye examination. We will help you to determine the causes and solutions for your eye strain. Call us today at 816-358-3600. We look forward to hearing from you.

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