Computer Eye Strain

eye_strain-01It’s a sign of the times. We are spending more and more time with our eyes focused on a screen in front of us. Whether we are avid Facebookers or tweet constantly on our phones or even just spend all day at work in front of a computer monitor, our eyes are constantly getting a work out. Heck, you’re even reading this right now on some kind of digital device.

If you find yourself in front of a computer all day long and suffer from any of these symptoms:

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck or shoulder pain

you could be experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). It is a real thing. 50-90% of people who work at a computer have symptoms.

Computer Vision Syndrome is difficult for adults who have to sit in front of a computer for work, but now as schools are replacing text books with digital media, CVS is quickly becoming more prevalent with school-aged children.

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in which the muscles of the wrists become stressed because of repetitive movement, muscles of the eyes fatigue after doing the same thing over and over. Add to that the other problems that come with digital visual stimulation such as screen/light contrast, flicker and glare. This can all result in further stress on the eyes which is even more bothersome when a vision problem like near or farsightedness is already present.

What can you do?

1. Like Oprah, it’s all about the proper lighting. A too-bright office could be a culprit. The contrast between your overhead florescent lighting and your monitor could be causing your eyes additional stress. Your ambient lighting should be about half of what it is in a typical office. Consider drawing the blinds and adding floor lamps instead of the stark overhead fixtures.

Another source of stress for your eyes is the light coming from your office windows. Consider placing your monitor to the side of windows instead of having the window in front of you or behind you.

Glare on walls can cause additional eye strain. Consider painting the walls a darker, matte color to reduce glare.

2. Adjust your monitor settings. The brightness of your display should be the same as the rest of your work station, and you should adjust the text display so you can comfortably see it. On PCs you can do this in the Control Panel. On Macs, you can go to System Preferences for more information.

3. Break out the ruler and protractor. Your computer screen should be approximately 20-24 inches from your eyes, with the center of the screen 10-15º below your eyes.

4. Blink More. The simple act of blinking helps to naturally moisten your eyes. You could also consider lubricating drops as a way to refresh the eye. There is a difference however between lubricating drops and redness-removing drops. Redness-removing drops are not formulated to moisten your eyes and can actually make the problem worse.

5. You deserve a break. Many experts (myself included) recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away. This will help give your eyes a break and stop your focus from “locking up”.

Of course if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, bring them up with your optometrist. He or she can make some additional recommendations, including prescribing specific glare-reducing lenses if you wear glasses or contact lenses that are specifically made for heavy computer users.

Meet Specks!

EyeCare Specialties Vision Therapy program has been helping hundreds of kids in the Lincoln and surrounding communities overcome their vision disorders through vision therapy.

Vision therapy helps patients who have problems with eye focusing, eye teaming, lazy eye and crossed eyes. These vision disorders can be discovered in children as they encounter difficulty with school work.

While we’ve been talking with their parents about the benefits of vision therapy, we wanted to develop a way to communicate with the kids in a way that could inspire and motivate them throughout our program.

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce to you, Specks!Print

Isn’t Specks charming? We love his name because it’s based off the word “spectacles”. This word has a unique, double meaning that is related to vision/sight in different contexts.

1. (Noun) Anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind.

2. (Noun) Spectacles, eyeglasses, especially with pieces passing over or around the ears for holding them in.

Why an Owl?

Owls are a symbol in western culture of wisdom and intelligence. They are known for their upright stance and famous for their binocular vision. While unable to see close up, owls have tremendous eyesight at distance and use both eyes to perceive depth and navigate flight at night. Bird mascots also evoke forward momentum. And, owls are incredibly cute.

Specks the Owl is also a gender neutral name and can be easily adopted by both boys and girls. He is approachable, engaging and thoroughly adorable.

So if you see this awesome owl at EyeCare Specialties or our Center for Vision Development, consider yourself already acquainted. We hope our patients enjoy this mascot as much as we do.