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How You Can Avoid Computer Eye Strain

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Computer Eye Strain

Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches – at work or at home, we’re never far away from a computer screen. On average, you look at your smartphone 85 times a day. More than you thought, right?

Don’t worry — we’re not about to tell you to ditch the tablet and bin your smartphone. Computers and phones are a part of everyday life, and just like anything else, they need to be used sensibly.

Not least because of the impact on your eye health. In our device-obsessed modern world, computer-related eyestrain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is a big problem.

What causes CVS?

As much as 70% of us spend 6 hours each working day looking at a computer screen. That’s an awfully long time for our eyeballs to be fixed staring at a screen.

Much like other parts of the body, the human eye needs to keep moving. Our eyelids need to close regularly to help keep the surface of the eye lubricated, while the muscles that help the eyes focus on objects also need a regular workout.

Unfortunately, spending hours at a time concentrating on a computer screen, mobile phone or tablet often means our eyes don’t blink as often as they should. Research shows on average we blink 12-15 x per minute, but when using a PC this reduces by 66% to 4-5 x per minute. And, of course, we’re focusing for long periods at a single distance.

This can all add up to classic CVS symptoms: dry or itchy eyes, headaches, difficulty focusing and blurry vision.

How do I prevent or relieve CVS symptoms?

Working for hours on end in front of a computer can take its toll on your eyes. The NHS’s advice is to:

  • Focus on objects further away, not just your screen
  • Deliberately blink to help lubricate your eyes, or use eye drops
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take a moment to stretch your neck and move your head
  • Step away from the computer to move around and get your blood flowing

Many people benefit from wearing spectacles in the office, as they reduce glare and can help maintain focus. With regular eye checks, your optometrist will be able to recommend whether glasses could help at work.

20/20/20 vision

A great way to remember all of this is the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and focus on an object that’s at least 20 feet away.

If you don’t have a window to gaze out of, another good way to achieve this is to place a clock in the room to check the time, rather than glancing at the clock on your screen- your eyes will thank you for the break!

The conditions you work in also make a big difference. It’s important that your working environment is well lit — the contrast between the bright light of your computer screen and the darkness of a poorly lit room causes glare which can be uncomfortable to your eyes.

Got the blue light blues?

Computer screens emit a cool blue tone of light that can upset our natural sleep rhythms, fooling our bodies into thinking it’s the middle of the day when in fact we should be winding down for bed.

Thankfully, many smartphones and tablets can reduce this blue light. Look out for ‘Night Shift’ on Apple devices and ‘Night Mode’ (or equivalent app) on Android devices. Certain lenses in your spectacles can have an anti-glare coating, which reduces blue light entering your eyes.

Regular eye tests are essential

It’s no surprise that the NHS recommends regular eye tests. It’s important that any changes to your eyes, however small, are checked by a professional.

Make sure you visit your optician at least every two years – and if you’re suffering from dry, itchy eyes or blurry vision, make sure you get your eyes examined as soon as possible.

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