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Whether it’s headaches, soreness in your eyes, or blurred vision, optometrists use an umbrella term for any discomfort that may be caused by staring at a digital screen: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Sometimes called Digital Eye Strain, CVS can result from spending too much time on your computer, tablet, or cellular phone. But many of our activities require us to focus on a computer monitor for extended periods, whether we’re at work, school, or playing games.

If you find yourself suffering from CVS, it may be caused by one or more of the following factors:

YOUR EYES ARE TOO CLOSE TO YOUR SCREEN

A report published in July of 2011 indicated that — despite comparable font sizes — people tend to hold their digital devices much closer to their faces than books or newspapers. When reading text messages or web pages, study participants held their digital devices at average distances of approximately 36 centimeters and 32 centimeters from their eyes respectively. On average, these same participants held books or other forms of printed text about 40 centimeters from their eyes.

Reading from devices up close places heavy demands on your eyes, since you are forced to focus harder, and your eyes angle inward toward each other. When reading from a computer or a mobile device, try reading from a farther distance than normal in order to reduce the risk of CVS. There’s nothing wrong with changing the size of your font, either.

YOU’RE FORGETTING TO BLINK

When people read or write on the computer, they tend to stare more often than they would while reading a printed page. While staring, computer users tend to blink less often, which denies your corneas steady moisturization. Reading off of a computer screen for prolonged periods, therefore, causes your eyes to become dry and sore. Remember to look away from your screen occasionally and — it sounds strange to remind you to do this, but — blink.

YOU MAY NEED AN ENTIRELY NEW PAIR OF GLASSES FOR YOUR COMPUTER

Your reading glasses aren’t made for your computer,” explains Dr. Joshua Dunaief, an ophthalmologist and macular degeneration researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. And neither are your normal glasses; Dunaief suggests a separate pair of specs designed for viewing a monitor. “An optometrist can fit you for glasses made specifically for computer use that will make things easier on your eyes.

While there is no evidence that CVS can cause long-term, damaging effects, many doctors still recommend taking breaks from your computer monitor for a few minutes every hour. Changing a few of your computer habits can greatly reduce the occurrence of CVS.

If you think you may have Computer Vision Syndrome, or think you may be experiencing additional problems as a result of working and reading on digital screens, call Silverstein Eye Care Centers today at (816) 358-3600 or request an appointment online . Our staff is experienced at identifying CVS and other eye issues and can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City.

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