Computer Vision Syndrome and Refractive Surgery

Posted in Optometry Information

Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain, is a condition that occurs when someone experiences the negative effects of looking at a screen for extended periods of time. Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms can vary, but typically include dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck pain and/or shoulder pain. And if you’ve had refractive surgery recently, like LASIK or PRK, you may experience even more dryness after spending hours at the computer.

Staring, often unblinkingly, at a bright screen for hours on end, puts serious strain on your eyes. While some people are able to avoid using the computer for long stretches of time, many others simply can’t avoid computer time because their career depends on it. If this sounds familiar, you can still get your work done while taking steps to protect your eyes. Here are a couple ideas to try.

Moisture Matters

When you undergo a procedure like LASIK laser eye surgery or PRK, your eyes will naturally become dry for a few weeks afterward. Couple this with hours each day on the computer, and your eyes are likely to feel extremely fatigued and dried out. If you’ve had refractive surgery, it’s a good idea to ask your eye doctor for lubricating eye drops that you can keep on hand and use frequently – especially during your screen time at the computer.

Proper Positioning

If you rely on a computer for your work on a daily basis, take a look at how your computer screen and chair are positioned. You’ll probably find that looking downward at the screen is more comfortable and strains the eyes less than viewing it from other angles. One recommendation is to keep the screen about four or five inches below eye level and about 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Don’t forget you can zoom in to further reduce eye strain.

When it comes to your chair, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Your chair height should be such that your feet can rest on the floor and the arms of the chair should provide support for your elbows and forearms. In recent years, many people have opted to utilize standing desks, balance balls, and treadmill desks while they work. If this is true for you, be sure the computer is still positioned optimally and that your posture remains upright so that you’re not hunching forward toward the screen.

Try the 20/20/20 Trick

So now you’ve ensured that your computer and chair are positioned properly, and that your posture is upright. There’s still some work to be done to reduce the odds of suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms. One method to try is called “20/20/20,” and it’s easy to do and easy to remember. The gist of this is, every 20 minutes, you should look at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Repeat this every 20 minutes throughout your workday, and you should experience a significant decrease in the ill effects computer time can have on your eyes.

Banish the Glare

Another reason that Computer Vision Syndrome occurs is due to how the glare of the computer screen impacts your eyes. To start with, try to reduce the brightness of your screen, and you might want to consider getting a glare filter for your computer. The more you can do to limit the glare, the better off your eyes will be when handling the ongoing exposure to the screen.

Get Seen

If you’re concerned that you may have Computer Vision Syndrome, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your doctor. This condition is most often diagnosed based on a series of tests your eye doctor takes you through, typically including visual acuity measurements, eye focusing tests, and a refraction test. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment.

Dealing with eye strain and other symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome can be a very big annoyance, sometimes even interfering with your daily activities. But this doesn’t have to continue. You can take the measures above to protect your eyes from fatigue and irritation caused by screen time. Contact us to learn more about caring for your eyes and let us know how we can help.

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