One of the many positive things to come out of computer networking technology is the ease with which people can now work remotely. By saving the time and expense of commuting, many people have found that their work day is less stressful and more productive. However, just because you’re working behind a desk in the comfort of your own home doesn’t necessarily mean that your working conditions aren’t dangerous. Recent research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels, all of which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, simply staring at a computer screen for a long period of time can potentially lead to a condition called computer vision syndrome, which may have seriously debilitating effects on your eyesight.
Accounting for more than 10 million visits to eye doctors every year, computer vision syndrome, or CVS, is believed to affect as many as 70% of Americans, and is considered to be one of the most wide-spread workplace ergonomic issues today. When the tiny muscles responsible for maintaining the eyes’ focus are forced to repeat the same motions over and over again for hours on end, they eventually become fatigued, leading to blurred vision and headaches. Furthermore, during periods of intense focus, people tend to blink less frequently, which deprives the eyes of the natural oils and mucus secretions in tears that keep the corneas clean and moist. This causes the eyes to become red, itchy, and dry, a condition that can potentially lead to further problems.
While CVS can occur in people of any age, and is actually quite common in children who stare at phones, tablets, computer screens, or other electronic devices for long periods, men and women over the age of forty can be particularly susceptible. As the eye ages, the lens becomes less flexible and the eye muscles less resilient, a condition commonly known as presbyopia. This means that the eyes have to work harder to focus on nearby objects and so eye fatigue can happen much more quickly. Fortunately, no matter what your age, the eye strain that results in computer vision syndrome can usually be avoided relatively easily by taking regular breaks and following the “20-20-20 Rule”…
- Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and
- Focus on something at least 20 feet away
- For about 20 seconds
This simple trick is often just enough of a rest to keep your eyes feeling fresh. Finally, try to remind yourself to blink often to keep your eyes moist and well-lubricated, and if you feel as though your vision is worsening, come in right away for a comprehensive medical eye exam. Not only can we diagnose and treat serious eye conditions before they can permanently impact your vision, but our consultative optometrist, Dr. Marc Lay, can also perform a basic eye exam and even prescribe a pair of eyeglasses that are optimized for viewing a computer screen. Please feel free to make an appointment at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear and healthy.