As people spend more and more time in front of and looking at LCD computer screens, eye care becomes more important than ever, experts say.
According to a 2005 report released by the research and opinion gathering firm ORC International, commissioned by the computer hard drive giant Seagate, seventy-six percent of Americans own a personal computer. Estimates would put this number higher today given the lowered cost of obtaining a new or used pc and the overwhelming acceptance of the pc tablets. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics places 100 million people working at computers as part of their daily employment routine, which has lead to technology induced eye condition called computer vision syndrome or CVS.
The Cleveland Clinic of Ohio posted in 2011 facts by their own eye care specialist Dr. Rishi Singh about recognizing the symptoms of CVS, and what can be done to help reduce eye strain while you surf your favorite websites.
Many people who view a computer screen for extended periods - usually two or more continuous hours a day - can develop CVS because their eyes are working harder. The risk, as well as the level of discomfort, increases with the amount of computer use.
They symptoms of CVS Dr. Rishi Singh listed include decreased or blurred vision, burning, or stinging eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches, back and neck pain. In addition, to listing these symptoms of over-worked eyes, the doctor offered five simple steps in helping reduce the wear and tear on your eyes.
The first step in improving your computer screen viewing is to adjust your viewing angle, this means to reduce the angle of gaze (angle at which you view the screen) by assuring the center of the screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and four inches below your eye level. According to Dr. Singh you should be able to look from a document back to the screen without having to move your head.
The second step is to reduce glare, due to the contrast limitations of screen-generated letters and numbers by screen pixels compared to the printed word. Screen users develop sensitivity to light. Some common sense applications greatly reduce this problem, such as move the screen away from direct light sources, close blinds or curtains, and change desk lamps to a lower wattage. If all else fails, invest in a glare shield.
"Even if you don't need glasses for daily activities, you may need them for computer use. If you wear glasses or contacts and need to tilt your head or lean toward the screen to see it clearly, your lens prescription may not be right for computer use. Having the correct prescription can help prevent pain in the neck, shoulders, or back resulting from contorting the body to see the screen."
The third step: rest your eyes. This may sound simple, however, many times viewers will resist looking away or taking a break once interested in something on the screen.
The fourth step in reducing eyestrain and the effects of CVS is, believe it or not - blinking. Dr. Singh states computer users blink only a quarter the amount as compared to normal which is around 18 times a minute. Lubricating your eyes helps, as less blinking can also lead to dry eyes.
The final step in reducing eyestrain and CVS is a good eye exam. Often times an uncorrected eye problem such as farsightedness can add to eye strain and even musculoskeletal pain.
"If the underlying cause of CVS is not addressed, your symptoms will continue and may worsen in the future," says Dr. Singh.
This article is the first in a two part series dealing with computer use and eye care. The second part addresses some of the harmful eye conditions in which our kids are exposed to while using computers.