Eastside Medical Group March 01, 2015

Spending hours at your computer can be exhausting for your eyes, unless you take steps to protect them.

You just spent two hours writing and editing a proposal—that’s 120 minutes of focusing intensely on a computer screen. You spent most of the previous day, and the day before that, doing the same thing. Now, the words on the monitor seem slightly blurred, your eyes feel as though they have sand in them every time you blink, and you can feel a headache coming on.

You may have computer vision syndrome (CVS), a problem that arises from chronic, extended computer use. Here are some possible reasons your eyes are letting you know they’re fed up, along with ways to address the problems:

  • You have a glaring problem. If you sit near a window, adjust the blinds to prevent glare on your computer screen and position the monitor to avoid visual interference from the lights in your office. You can also place a filter on your screen to reduce reflections.
  • You’re not getting enough visual variety. Your eyes need breaks throughout the day. Periodically, get up, walk around and look at anything other than your screen. If you’re too busy to leave your desk, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends following the “20-20-20” rule: Every 20 minutes, sit back in your chair, pick an object that’s at least 20 feet away and gaze at it for 20 seconds.
  • You’re not giving your eyes enough personal space. Don’t sit or lean too close to the screen. Leave at least two feet of space between your eyes and the monitor.
  • You’ve adopted the wrong angle. Looking straight ahead at your computer screen can cause eye discomfort. The American Optometric Association recommends placing the monitor approximately four to five inches below eye level.
  • You need to boost your blinking. Computer use can cause individuals to cut their number of blinks per minute in half, from about 18 to 9, according to the AAO. You need to blink regularly to lubricate your eyes, so be sure to do so while working at your computer.

CVS often gets better after taking a break from computer work or making behavioral or environmental modifications. If problems persist, see an ophthalmologist to check your glasses or contact lenses or to rule out other vision problems. To find an ophthalmologist, visit eastsidemedical.com/physicians.