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Tips for Avoiding Computer Vision Syndrome

Use these tips to avoid getting eye strain from computer use

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You’ve been sitting in front of your computer for two hours trying to finish a project. But it’s impossible to concentrate because of your stinging, burning dry eyes. You can’t quit now, but you can hardly see.

You may have computer vision syndrome, or CVS. Tired eyes and blurry vision are two symptoms of this growing health  problem, also known as digital eye strain.  As computer use continues to rise, so do cases of CVS. A recent study showed that nearly 90 percent of employees who work with computers for more than three hours a day suffer from some form of eye trouble.

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

CVS has a host of causes including improper lighting, screen glare, and an ill-adapted workspace.   Poor posture and glasses or contact lenses with incorrect prescriptions can also exacerbate the condition,  according to Kent M. Daum, O.D., Ph.D., of the School of Optometry of the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Staring at the screen is another culprit.  When we lock our eyes on a computer screen, we blink less, so the eyes become dry, explains Daum.  And the more we concentrate, the less we blink, so casually surfing the Web may be easier on the eyes than focused work, he says. Also, deficiencies of vitamin A may cause severe eye dryness, which makes the condition worse.

Comfort Your Eyes

While CVS has not yet been shown to damage vision, there is no need to put up with its uncomfortable symptoms. Proper workspace ergonomics, frequent breaks from the computer, and eye drops are easy solutions that work.

  • Use eye drops: When choosing eye drops, stay away from those containing phenylephrine or other whitening agents that can worsen symptoms over time.
  • Lower the lights: Dimming the lights in the workspace can also reduce eye fatigue. “The eye adjusts to the relatively dim computer screen. If you have a brightly lit office, whenever you look away from the screen, your eyes have to adjust to that brighter light, which can lead to eye fatigue,” Daum explains.
  • Adjust your computer:  Judith Lasater, Ph.D., author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times recommends adjusting the computer so that the eyes rest at the level just below the tips of the ears; this will put the head in a more relaxed, comfortable position.
  • Sit up straight:  Lasater also says to pull your shoulder blades down, “like tucking in a shirt,” for a long back and open chest.
  • Relax:  To release overall tension, which Lasater says contributes to eye distress, she suggests practicing Savasana (Corpse Pose) with a prop set up tailored for the eyes. Lie down in Savasana with a stack of books or a couple of block lying above the top of your head. Place either a five-pound bag of rice or a sandbags halfway on the books/blocks and halfway on your forehead. Relax for 15 minutes. This will help the muscles in the head to loosen and relax.

See also Ayurveda’s Remedies for Tired Eyes