A 2016 report by the Vision Council found that 60% of Americans use digital devices for 5 or more hours each day. 70% of Americans use 2 or more devices at a time.
The term Digital Eyestrain has replaced the term Computer Vision Syndrome due to the increase in types of digital devices. Digital Eyestrain is defined as “physical discomfort of one’s eyes after spending periods of time throughout the day in front of a digital device, such as a computer or smartphone.”
It is reported that we blink an average of 10 times a minute normally, when reading, using a smartphone or other device the blink rate drops to 4 times a minute. Blinking is a vital component to ocular surface health and tear stability. More important than how often we blink is how well we blink. An incomplete blink can cause more tear instability than not enough blinks. A complete blink is necessary to stimulate a muscle on the eyelid margin that releases an important component of the tear film.
Treatment for Digital Eyestrain includes wearing the best visual correction for the task. Reducing glare and fatiguing light with coatings is beneficial also. For contact lens wearers the proper correction for the working distance is important. A clean contact lens surface and proper blinking can minimize dry eye symptoms.
There are many symptoms of computer vision strain: eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, watery eyes, tired or burning eyes, squinting, and eye pain.
If you experience any of the above, here are a few things you can do now to improve your situation.
Lighting is one of the biggest problems. Light should be distributed equally to avoid discomfort. The overhead lights and windows are often too bright. If possible dim the lights over your computer and rearrange your workstation to avoid facing bright light sources such as a window. Use blinds to adjust the light allowed into the room.
If auxiliary lights are used they should be low wattage and not make the documents or desk brighter than the computer screen. Remember you are trying to equalize the lighting.
Workstation set-up is also within your control. Avoid reflective materials such as white or shiny surfaces. Desktops should be matte.
Lower the monitor and increase blink rate to reduce tear evaporation which contributes to dry eyes.
Take a Break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes. Focus your eyes on images at least 20 feet away.
It is important to have an accurate spectacle or contact lens prescription for computer use. Often a prescription designed just for the computer can relief most eye symptoms. Call (707-762-8643) or schedule an appointment online to resolve your computer vision issues.
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