This is a condition that results from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display devices for a long period of time.
Working at a Computer requires that the eyes continuously focus that is move back and forth to align with what you are seeing.
So when you look down at papers and then back up to type, the eyes have to accommodate to changing images on the screen in order to create a clear picture for the brain to interpret.
All these require lots of effort from the eye muscles.
Digital Eye Strain is also called Computer Vision Syndrome(CVS). It has become a major job-related complaint now.
The symptoms include:
*Physical fatigue with neck and shoulder pains
*Loss of focus
All these can cause work errors or mistakes and of course decreased productivity.
STEPS IN REDUCING DIGITAL EYE STRAIN
- Comprehensive Eye Exam:
* The most important and first thing to do is to get a comprehensive Eye Exam.
* Actually the ideal thing is to have an eye exam before you start using the system and once every year thereafter.
*This is because any underlying refractive error will make the CVS symptoms even worse so there is need to give corrective lenses for any refractive error detected.
- Changes to your Computer Screen:
*Improper posture during computer work contributes to CVS. Adjusting your work station to the correct height is necessary. Your screen should be 20 to 28inches away from your eyes and 10 to 15 degrees below eye levels. When you can comfortably place your palm flat on the monitor, you know you are at the correct distance.
*Adjust text size and contrast for comfort especially when reading or composing long documents
*Adjust the brightness of your computer to be approximately the same as the brightness of your work station.
*Smudges on the screen can reduce contrast and increase problems with glare and reflections so regularly clean off dust and finger prints from the screen.
*Install a glare filter over your screen
- Changes to your work environment
*Use of adjustable chair
*Use proper lighting to reduce glare and reflections. Excessive bright light from outdoor sunlight coming in through the window or from harsh interior lighting can trigger CVS. So close window blinds, position the computer so that the window is by the side instead of in front or behind, using fewer light bulbs, lower intensity bulbs, and no overhead fluorescent bulb.
*Use of document holder to hold your documents while working on a long document will also help.
- Changes to your work habits
A). 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20mins, you look at an object at 20 feet away for 20secs before you continue your work. Looking away relaxes the focusing muscles in your eye to reduce fatigue.
B). far and near gazing: Gaze at an object far away for 10 to 15secs, and then gaze at something up close for 10 to 15secs too. Do it 10times. This exercise reduces the risk of your eyes focusing ability to ‘lock up’ after prolonged computer work. We call it accommodative spasm.
*Blinking: This minimizes your chances of developing dry eyes when using the computer.
Tears coating the eye evaporate more rapidly during long non– blinking phases and this can cause dry eyes.
Also facing the Fan or AC can also help in causing dry eye. What to do: Every 20mins, blink 10 times slowly (by closing the eyes very slowly as if falling asleep). This will help rewet your eyes. You can put a small poster that says “BLINK” at the corner of your computer as a reminder.
During your breaks, stand up, move about, stretch your arms, legs, back and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue. Note that this will not reduce the workers productivity rather data entry speed is faster when you take short breaks.
- Take care of your eyes.
*When you feel your eyes are tired and dry, apply a wash cloth soaked in warm water to closed eyes. It is called warm compress.
*Use artificial tears to lubricate the eyes when they feel very dry.
*Your work station should not face the AC or fan directly.
*Use computer lenses: this can be with or without prescriptions. They have ARC that helps to reduce eye strain by taking the glare from harsh indoor and outdoor lightings away from your eyes to improve contrast. There are also coatings that absorb harmful blue light and prevent them from entering the cornea and the back of the eyes.