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Tips for Avoiding Computer Vision Syndrome

By Dr. Mark Lynn, Dr. Bizer's Vision World

Many of us spend each and every day staring at a computer screen. Whether it's your desktop at work, your laptop at home or your phone on the go – it's a constant presence in our lives. Staring at these screens for too long can cause Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which includes eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck pain.

When using a computer, you're viewing content at a different angle than you would when you read a book or write. This causes your eyes to move and focus differently, which can place additional strain and demands on your eyes.

"For many people suffering from CVS, they can't stop working behind a desk," said Dr. Mark Lynn, optometrist and owner of local Dr. Bizer's VisionWorld locations. "But there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate some of the symptoms."

• Check Your Desk Chair and Computer Monitor – The proper positioning can help alleviate symptoms of CVS. Make sure your seat is positioned with your feet resting flat on the floor and the arm rests adjusted wear they provide arm support while typing. In addition, your computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 to 5 inches) and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Being too close or too far away can cause eyestrain.

• Reference Materials – If you're using reference materials while working, make sure they are located above the keyboard and below the monitor. This allows for you to keep your head, and vision, steady without refocusing constantly.

• Anti-glare screens – Using an anti-glare screen will decrease the amount of light reflected off the screen, which will keep you from squinting.

• Take regular breaks - Make sure you give your eyes a 15-minute break after every two hours of continuous computer use. Get up and stretch or take a walk around the office to allow your eyes time to rest. In addition, for every 20 minutes of computer usage, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a quick break and time to refocus. This will help keep your eyes from drying out as well.

• Remember to blink – "This may seem redundant or silly but you'd be surprised by how many people we see for dry eyes caused by CVS," says Dr. Lynn. Don't forget to blink while you're working hard on that report. Frequent blinking minimizes your chance of developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of your eye moist.

Uncorrected vision problems can also contribute to the development of Computer Vision Syndrome; so make sure you're scheduling yearly eye exams and keeping your prescription up to date.

Published March 14, 2012

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