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Take a Break to Avoid Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

by Lux Joseph 14. September 2014

Does your job require you to be in front of a computer 8 hours a day? Or when you are at home do you spend a great deal of time watching TV or using other electronic devices with a screen? If you are using any type of digital technology for prolonged periods of time you could be subject to computer vision syndrome, or CVS. This is strain on your eyes caused by using a computer or other technological devices for long periods of time. At CME, our Medical Evacuation Coordinators job duties require them to utilize a computer throughout their shift, but CME takes measures to ensure CVS does not affect their performance at work or at home.
 
As an individual you should be aware of the effects that CVS may have on you and things that you can do to prevent it. For some people, there may not be any alternative to working on a computer for your entire shift at work. However, with some of these tips you will be able to reduce the amount of discomfort to your eyes. Some symptoms of CVS include headache, back, neck or shoulder pain; increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, or even double vision. None of these will cause permanent damage, but these symptoms could affect your work performance or your performance at home.
 
When individuals blink, they are bathing their eyes in therapeutic tears. This will moisten and refresh the surface of the corneas. Some people are not aware that when you are looking at a computer screen or other digital devices you tend to blink less and therefore this can result in your eyes being dry and not receiving adequate amount of moisture to keep them wet and refreshed.
 
Viewing a computer screen and other electronic device screens make your eyes work harder. If you work in this type of environment, you must realize that you are putting strain on your body and vision. Other factors that you should be aware of that can cause CVS are:
 

  • Poor Lighting
  • Glare on the Screen
  • Improper Viewing Distance
  • Uncorrected vision problems
  • Poor Seating Posture
  • Any combination of these factors

 
If you think that you may have CVS, we would recommend that you go see your ophthalmologist and they will be able to accurately diagnose CVS. This is done through a comprehensive eye examination as well as an assessment of your environment and work factors that may contribute to the symptoms that you are experiencing.
 
However there are also things that you can do for yourself to help prevent CVS and to ensure you are comfortable throughout the workday. By using some of the following tips you will see a difference in how your body and eyes feel when using electronic devices.
 

  • Your monitor should be positioned in front of you so that there is 20 to 40 inches from your eyes with the top of the screen at eye level
  • The letters on the screen should be easy for you to read. Adjust the contrast and brightness levels as necessary. You may wish to increase the font size or use the built in functions on the word processing application and web browser to zoom to the appropriate level
  • Keep your monitor clean and free of dust
  • Your keyboard should be directly in front of you. You do not want it too high or too low or at an angle. This can cause distress or fatigue in your eyes, wrists, and hands.
  • If you are looking at reading material, it is good to place is on a document holder beside your monitor that is at the same level, angle, and distance from your eyes as your monitor. This will reduce the amount of neck and hand movement as well as limit the number of times your eyes need to adjust
  • Remember the rule 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes you should spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away. It is important that you take breaks throughout the day and focus on other tasks such as file organizing, phone calls, or another task that is not focused on the computer.
  • Throughout the day it is important for you to blink often. If your eyes are irritated, they could be dry and you could use over-the-counter artificial teardrops. Eye drops that do not contain preservatives can be used at often as desired. Eye drops that have preservatives should not be used more than four times a day.
  • Practice relaxation exercises throughout the day


 
Keep in mind that CVS can occur when you are using ANY electronic device. While you may not utilize a computer 8 hours, individuals use smartphones, tablets, and e-readers on a daily basis. It is important that you take frequent breaks when using any of these devices. Recently Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and you will recognize they increased their screen. While this may be the direction that smart phone industry is going, having a larger screen will have less strain on the user.
 
Some content courtesy of American Optometric Association.
 


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