WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 08, 2014
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Are You Suffering From Computer Vision Syndrome?

Staring at the glowing box on your desk is part of your job, but did you know it can cause serious side effects? As the need for computer use at work and home continues to increase, more and more individuals are being diagnosed with CVS, or Computer Vision Syndrome. CVS can cause headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, dry eye, eye pain, and even ocular migraines; all of which can wreak havoc on your workday. If you suffer from the symptoms of CVS, not to worry; below are some simple tricks to help you avoid the pain an increase your workday productivity.

What Is CVS?

Currently, CVS is considered by the American Optometric Association as a catch-all for computer-related eye irritations and vision problems. CVS is most commonly caused by prolonged, uninterrupted periods of computer use and can result in a variety of uncomfortable and sometime debilitating ailments.  

The symptoms of CVS can be aggravated by poor office lighting, poor posture, improper computer screen viewing distance, uncorrected vision problems, computer glare, or a combination of some or all of these factors.

How to Prevent CVS

As with many other office related injuries, CVS is preventable. Taking a few precautions can help reduce the chances of suffering from CVS and can also minimize the symptoms for those already caught in the throes of a CVS episode.

  • Minimize Screen Glare: There are a few different ways to minimize computer screen glare. For starters, make sure your computer screen isn’t catching extraneous glare from your office window. If relocating your computer to avoid glare from windows or lights isn’t possible, try using a glare-blocking screen protector. These can be purchased at a computer or electronics store and are relatively easy to install; just clip the protector onto your computer monitor and this should significantly reduce screen glare.
  • Adjust Your Computer Screen Height: If your computer screen height is too high or too low, this can cause eye strain as well as neck and shoulder pain. Adjust your screen so that it is 5 - 9 inches below your direct line of sight. 
  • Get Regular Eye Exams: Having your eyes checked regularly can ensure your eye glass prescription is up to date. If you are squinting to see your screen even while using your glasses or contacts, you could not only suffer from CVS, you could actually cause irreversible damage to your eyes.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 Rule: Following the 20/20/20 rule forces you to take small breaks throughout the day to reduce the chances of CVS. Every 20 minutes look away from your computer screen and focus on something approximately 20 feet away from your computer for at least 20 seconds. Keep your eyes moving from object to object and blink regularly to help prevent dry eye.
  • Allow Time for Adjustment: When switching from your computer screen to smart device or from screen to paper, give your eyes time to adjust. Hold your handheld or paper document far from your eyes at first to help your eyes adjust to the distance change. 

 Treatment for CVS

Since the symptoms of CVS are mostly temporary and preventable, there aren’t many treatment options other than taking a break from computer use and taking ibuprofen for pain. However, for dry eye treatment, Optometrists recommend using moisturizing eye drops to reduce eye inflammation. Some experts also recommend using slightly tinted glasses to help reduce eye strain that is caused by brightly backlit devices. Tinted glasses have also been proven to reduce the chances of ocular migraine or headaches caused by the florescent lighting commonly found in office environments.

Giving these simple tips a try during your workday, should seriously improve your quality of life. Remember, the first rule of thumb is at the first sign of eye pain, take a break; it’s better to walk away from your station for a few minutes then suffer through an entire day with CVS. If your CVS symptoms are unbearable or you are suffering often from dry eye or migraines, it may be time to make an appointment with your doctor; sometimes more serious underlying ailments could be masked by CVS symptoms.

 

Image via the Austin Eye Clinic

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