Long hours in front of a computer screen can lead to fatigue and discomfort not only for your mind but also for your body—including your eyes. The fortunate thing is that there are ways to minimize the effects of extended time in front of a computer.
The official name for vision problems caused by prolonged computer usage is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of this condition include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry and/or bloodshot eyes
- Neck , shoulder, and back pain
These symptoms are often the result of seemingly trivial things that many people don’t think to consider. For example, did you know that adjusting the color temperature on your computer screen can help relieve your eyes? Color temperature is a technical term that describes the spectrum of visible light that your computer emits. Reducing it decreases the amount of blue light—the kind that can cause eyestrain—that makes it to your eyes.
Another cause of CVS that often goes overlooked is screen glare. Many newer computer screens don’t produce nearly as much glare as older ones. To help avoid glare, make sure that your computer screen is not in direct sunlight. For many people, these changes make the words on the screen clearer and the contrast between light and dark items on the screen less intense.
Often times it is difficult to use your regular glasses at your computer, especially if you’re presbyopic (need reading glasses or bifocals). Tipping your head back to see the computer screen through the reading part of your glasses can cause significant eye and neck strain. Your optometrist can prescribe computer glasses with anti-reflective coating to help avoid this problem.
Adjusting the angle of your computer can also make a big difference when it comes to eye fatigue. Your eyes will be most happy if the center of your screen is roughly 15-20 degrees below eye level and your screen itself is about 20-28 inches away from your eyes. For optimum effectiveness, be sure you have good posture. Keep your feet flat on the ground, back straight, shoulders back, and neck vertical and not jutting forward.
Other small adjustments you can make to help prevent discomfort and computer-related vision problems include:
- Adjusting the brightness and contrast on your screen
- Giving your eyes a 20-second break every 20 minutes while looking at something at least 20 feet away (what we call the 20-20-20 rule).
- Placing reference materials on a stand at an angle similar to that of your computer screen
- Making a point to blink often
If you try these remedies and don’t experience any relief, contact your VSP doctor. The solution may be as simple as getting a new prescription or changing your computer-viewing environment, but your eye doctor can suggest a solution for your specific situation.The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.