Signaling Screen Strain
How many hours do you log on the computer every week? If you’re like a lot of Americans, it’s a ton. From computer-dependent jobs to fun time surfing the net, our eyes are focused on computer screens – probably too much.
The result? You could face an actual medical condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is any number of eye or vision-related problems that can occur from computer use. And just about anyone who spends time in front of a computer screen is at risk. In fact, nearly 90% of people who work at a computer as few as three hours a day suffer from some type of eye trouble.*
We talked with Stephen Glasser, O.D., to get some facts about symptoms that could signal CVS versus run-of-the-mill tired eyes. Says Dr. Glasser, “If you’re experiencing two or more of these symptoms daily, you can be pretty sure you’re struggling with computer eye strain:”
Spotting the Symptoms
Sure, your eyes can be affected by too much computer use but so can other areas of your body. Have you experienced one or more of these discomforts?
- Blurred vision. It tops the list. When you shift your focus from the computer screen to things farther away, you could notice actual blurred vision or a delay in focusing your eyes.
- Dry eyes. If you feel like there’s something in your eyes you just can’t get rid of, or burning, stinging and inflammation, your eyes are probably dry.
- Eye strain. Vague eye discomfort you can’t quite put your finger on or that makes you squint or frown when you’re at the computer could be eyestrain.
- Glare sensitivity. If your monitor is too dark or bright, your eyes are working harder to see it and can get tired.
- Headaches — and not just those in the eye area — could be a sign you have computer eye strain.
- Neck and shoulder pain. Like eyestrain, other bodily aches could signal ergonomic problems in your workstation.
So, if these symptoms hit a little close to home, talk to your VSP doctor at your next visit.
“We hear about computer eye strain every day from our patients,” says Dr. Glasser. “Your eye doctor can recommend solutions such as adjustments to your office environment, special eyewear, eye drops or a combination approach. Also, a thorough eye exam may reveal that your computer vision problems are related to a different condition that needs treatment.”
* National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)