Staring at a computer screen all day has become a part of the regular workday for many of us. Not only that, but once out of the office, we’re almost completely dependent on our mobile and digital devices for everything from keeping up with current events, to shopping online, to looking up recipes and directions. Specifically, more than half of Canadian adults are viewing digital devices for more than 5 hours per day, some using two or more devices at once!
With all of this screen time, it’s no wonder that a lot of us experience digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome on a daily basis. The term computer vision syndrome (CVS) doesn’t just describe one eye problem, but rather a range of physical symptoms experienced by computer users. Interestingly, working on a computer is more challenging than reading a book, because a working on a computer forces our eyes to contend with contrast, flicker and glare. So, how do you know if you are suffering from CVS? Here are a few signs and symptoms to watch for:
- Blurry vision
- Red eyes
- Eye strain or a dull pain around the eyes, brow or temples
- Dry eyes
- Difficulty changing focus when looking away from the screen
- Neck or back pain
Keep in mind that it’s not just working adults who are susceptible to CVS, but children and young adults who use computers throughout the day, or who spend a lot of time gaming or staring at a tablet, are also likely to experience the above symptoms. In fact, recent research shows that Canadian children (aged 10-16) spend a staggering 6.5 hours in front of a screen per day on average.
So what are we to do? Although it may not be possible to dissociate ourselves completely from such technology, there are a few things we can do to reduce the symptoms of CVS:
- Reduce your screen time: Taking breaks from technology, before CVS sets in, may be the best solution. After every 20 minutes on the computer or digital device, take 5 minutes and change your focus to a different task to give your eyes a break.
- Try to blink more often: Blinking generally occurs without thought, but when we look at a computer screen we don’t do it as frequently. This makes computer users more susceptible to dry eye symptoms. A great solution is to consciously remind yourself to blink more often since proper blinking releases and spreads oils from eyelid glands into your tears, keeping your tears healthy.
- Wear specialized eye glasses: Upon examining your eyes, our optometrists may recommend prescription eyeglasses with an anti-reflective coating and/or a tint, for example the Nikon SeeCoat Blue Premium UV, to reduce the glare on your eyes.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from CVS, or if you are experiencing eye discomfort in any way, please book an appointment with one of our doctors and let us help.