No doubt about it: Americans love their technology. In fact, the Pew Research Center says about 80% of adults in the United States spend part of their day scouring the internet, while a whopping 28% — almost a third of all adult men and women — are “almost constantly” online.
That doesn’t even include the people who spend hours offline, gaming, working, or using their computers, phones, or tablets in other ways.
That begs the question: When it comes to our devices, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Medical experts say yes — especially when it comes to eye health. Spending a lot of time staring at a lighted screen can cause a host of eye-related problems, along with some really uncomfortable symptoms.
As a leading eye care provider in Reston, Virginia, Rostami OPC helps men and women with “computer vision syndrome” get the care they need to relieve dry eye and other symptoms associated with long-term screen use.
If you use your devices on a regular basis, here’s what you should know about their potential impact on your eyes.
Computer vision syndrome: Causes and symptoms
Looking at something on a computer screen — large or small — is different from other types of viewing. First of all, print and objects on computer screens typically aren’t as clear or sharp as print or pictures on paper.
The contrast between the type or picture and the screen background is also significantly different, thanks to the backlighting.
Glare and reflections can also make your eyes work harder to focus. All of these differences are subtle enough to go unnoticed — but they do make a difference to your eyes. In fact, these factors (and others, like ambient lighting and screen size and distance) contribute to eyestrain, headaches, and other symptoms of computer vision.
At the same time, when we’re staring hard at our screens, we tend to blink less. Dry, itchy, burning eyes are a primary symptom of computer vision syndrome, and over time, these symptoms can lead to blurry vision and even infections.
Worse, many of us tend to use our screens even when we’re tired, making our eyes work harder and for longer periods of time.
Treating computer vision syndrome
Some good news: You can prevent computer vision syndrome and even get some relief for current symptoms simply by changing a few habits.
Take frequent breaks
Taking regular breaks from your screen is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of developing computer vision syndrome. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the 20-20-20 rule: After every 20 minutes of screen time, take a break for 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.
Keep your distance
The closer your screen, the greater the risk of eyestrain and discomfort. Try to position your screen about 24 inches away from your eyes to reduce that risk.
Cut the glare
Reflective glass screens can cause glare that winds up irritating your eyes. Consider installing a simple screen to cut back on glare for better eye comfort.
Adjust your room lighting
You know the routine: You dim the lights so you can see the screen better. But if your screen is brighter than the surrounding room light, your eyes will work harder to focus. You can help prevent strain by making sure your environment is well lit before using your device.
Use lubricating drops
Artificial tears can help lubricate your eye surface, preventing irritation and other uncomfortable symptoms. Use them as indicated, and if you have other symptoms or your symptoms persist, schedule an exam and evaluation right away to avoid more serious problems.
Don’t ignore eye symptoms
Computer vision syndrome can cause an array of symptoms, including dry eyes, excessive tearing, burning and itching, and eyestrain. Count on us to help. To learn more about computer vision syndrome or to schedule an eye exam, call the office or book online today.