Many of us are working from home during Covid-19 and though businesses are slowly starting to open up the trend for remote work will probably continue. With remote work and social interaction being relegated to Zoom we are on our computers more than ever before which can translate to vision problems and computer vision syndrome. Read on to learn more about computer vision syndrome and what you can do about it.
Screen-time during a Pandemic
With the computer as our only link to extended family, friends and co-workers over the last while screen time has increased. During the stay at home order we were using computers to:
- Conduct business meetings/Interact with Colleagues
- Spend time with extended family
- Host social Interactions such as game night
- Help kids with e-learning
All of this has translated in extra screen time. Work meetings, interactions with colleagues and other events that would have taken us away from screens such as family gatherings, social celebrations and game nights were spent in front of a computer. This was a necessary part of staying in touch and emotionally weathering self-isolation but it may have caused our eyes to pay the price. With social time being screen time, our eyes are being strained more than ever before.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. Viewing a screen makes your eyes have to work harder. The high level of vision demands can cause discomfort. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use which we’ve just established has increased with Covid-19 precautionary measures in place.
What are the signs of Computer Vision Syndrome?
According to the AAO (American Association of Optometry) the most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
In addition to blue light exposure and too much screen time these symptoms may be caused by:
- Poor lighting
- Glare on a digital screen makes it difficult to read and strains your eyes
- Improper viewing distances- angle and position that you’re reading your screen from
- Poor seating posture (see below*)
- Uncorrected vision problems- even slight vision problems are heightened when reading off a screen
- A combination of these factors
*Office spaces are designed for the most part to be ergonomically friendly. Working at home you may not have the proper desk, alignment or lighting which can contribute to eye strain. Improper alignment affects the eyes if you’re lifting your head constantly so you can see your monitor more clearly.
How can I prevent computer vision syndrome or eye strain?
Here are some suggestions to prevent eye strain while spending more time on screens:
- Get eyeglasses or contact lenses that are specific for computer work
Lenses prescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing can greatly reduce eye strain. With the proper computer prescription placed at the top of the lens and the reading at the bottom (no distance in the glasses at all), you will be able to see your computer screen clearly without any head tilting and still be able to read a document from the bottom. This will eliminate neck pain and headaches as well. To learn more about how computer glasses can help visit this post.
- Try adjusting your work station
If you don’t have computer glasses and wear corrective eyewear try lowering your monitor so that you are looking downward through your progressive lenses. A twenty-degree decline should eliminate the need to lift your head. You can also adjust your chair to achieve the same effect. For more on computer vision syndrome and ergonomics visit allaboutvision.com.
You can also prevent computer vision syndrome by:
- Using hydrating eye drops to prevent dry eye or blink- studies show that people blink 60% less while using a computer
- Following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away to 20 feet for 20 seconds to give more eye muscles a rest
- Spending less time on screens! Now that the weather is nice, take breaks by going for a socially distanced walk with a friend instead of meeting on zoom, or a bike ride.
Hopefully as things get back to normal so will our screen habits but as most of us are still practising physical distancing and remote work, this is a trend likely to continue. It’s helpful to have some tools in place to prevent eye strain. If you need glasses especially for the computer contact our offices to learn more.