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Computer vision syndrome: cause, symptoms and treatment

Sep 10, 2021 6:23:00 AM / by Wellcare


We have five different senses: eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, tongue to taste, and skin to touch. All of these organs are important ways we interact with and perceive our environment, creating a holistic meaning altogether. Out of these senses, however, we would like to posit that our eyes are the most important.


Our eyes are important, yet unappreciated


As light reflects off different objects in your periphery, it enters your eyes as the gateway to your visual cortex. This part of your brain primarily receives, integrates, and processes visual information, allowing you to understand what you are looking at. Research shows that this image is then sent to your amygdala that further processes this to send your body an appropriate response. If you were to see a frisbee flying towards you, this split-second process allows your body to shield your face or catch the disc before it hits you. If you didn't have your eyes to rely on, your brain will find it more challenging to automatically process your surroundings.


And many people would agree. In a Tellwut survey among 2000 participants, 61% of them agree that they would not give up their eyesight, with 70% saying that losing their sight will have the greatest impact on their everyday life.


Computer Vision Syndrome: how does it start and what are the symptoms


Even before the pandemic, we've already become a society that's relied on our digital tools. When comparing total internet usage of mobile users have increased from 26% in 2014 to 47% in 2019. Our time online has only increased since then, with Generation Z being the most tech-savvy generation yet. If you've been experiencing these symptoms before, they may have been exacerbated by your nonstop usage. And this may have worsened ever since the start of the pandemic.


In the same way that your wrist slowly develops carpal tunnel from clicking your mouse repetitively, computer vision syndrome happens when your eyes follow the same path over and over. As you work on your computer, your eyes will have to adjust and refocus when you visit different websites or attend a virtual presentation.


During sleepy mornings, your eyes move back and forth as you scan through emails, gathering data that your brain needs to formulate a reply. Sometimes, you're taking an online course and you need to look down to write notes and look back up to type your answers. During all this time, your eyes have to react to rapidly varying images, shifting their focus and sending this information to your brain.


Unlike a book or a piece of paper, your computer or mobile screens have more contrast, flicker, and glare, requiring a lot of effort from your eyes. Research also shows that we blink far less frequently when using a computer. This act causes our eyes to dry out and affect our vision while working. If you have existing eye problems, you're more likely to develop eye vision problems.


Of course, this phenomenon doesn't only happen to professionals. As we mentioned earlier, children and young adults today are more exposed to screens than older generations. Because of this, they become more vulnerable to eyestrain headaches.


In observance of social distancing protocols last March 2020, many companies and schools opted to transition all activities online. By the end of the year, Forbes reveals that we've spent 1.6 trillion hours on our mobile phones. Millions of people are on their screens now more than ever before, either working for extended hours or attending online classes. And it's not only for work. Many of us have attended online reunions and movie nights, hoping to reconnect with friends and family members who we haven't seen in a long time.


While it's important to do our part to prevent the pandemic from worsening, our new normal has taken a toll on our eyesight. While there's insufficient research to prove that computer or mobile phone usage causes damage to your eyes, regular and prolonged use can lead to digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. Here are the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision or double vision that is normally caused by poor lighting or glare on your digital screen.

  • Dry, red or itchy eyes from physical exhaustion that happens when you don't rest your eyes from digital screens.

  • Eye strain, headaches or neck and shoulder pain from uncorrected vision problems or a poor seating posture.


With our growing dependence on technology, your eyes shouldn't pay the price for something that can be easily prevented.


Taking care of your eyes


While most of your symptoms are only short-term, you may experience difficulty doing daily activities while suffering from eye strain. There are several ways you put yourself at risk of getting digital eye strain:

  • Spending four hours or more looking at your computer screen or any digital device without taking breaks.

  • Sitting too close to a large screen or putting smaller ones too close to your face.

  • Looking at your screen from the wrong angle or adopting a poor posture.

  • Being diagnosed with eye problems that are not corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses.

  • On the other hand, using a pair of glasses that are not suitable for you.

  • Taking certain medications that increase your chances of having dry eyes.

Now that we have gone through different reasons why you may be experiencing computer vision syndrome, it's time to address the cause of your symptoms.


  1. Reduce the glare of your lighting


Blue light comes from fluorescent lighting, LEDs, monitors and mobile devices, negatively affecting your vision long-term. We recommend using lens tints or glare reduction filters to minimise the effects of blue light. This kind of light can be bad for your eyesight, being the primary cause of blurry vision, eyestrain and dry eye.


Changing the lighting of your environment will reduce the glare of your computer screen. This can be done in various ways, depending on whether you work at home or in the office. If you're working near a window that catches the sunlight, the sun's glare on your screen or desk can irritate your eyes. We suggest moving your monitor to a different place or closing the shades.


If you're working in the office and don't have immediate control of your environment, you may ask your employer to install a light dimmer switch instead of the traditional one. Depending on your eye's light sensitivity for that day, you can adjust the settings where your eyes aren't overwhelmed by the brightness or contrast. On the other hand, if you find your office desk too dim, you can bring a portable lamp that can cast light evenly.


It is also a good practice to regularly clean your screens of dirt and fingerprints to improve clarity.


  1. Rearrange your work area for comfort


When using computers for work or study, find a work surface that is about 26 inches high instead of the usual 29-inch tables and desks. The screen should be 16 to 30 inches away to prevent eye strain, where the screen should be slightly below your eye level. We recommend keeping that at 10 or 20 degrees to prevent straining your neck and eyes to see what's on-screen. We also suggest that your chair height helps your feet rest comfortably on the floor to prevent you from slumping over your screen. Some people working from home have also taken to moving their workspace to the floor as they find it helpful for their postures. For this, we recommend finding laptop stands or small tables that help you follow the 10 to 20-degree angle.


In the same way that your screen should be propped up to face you, we suggest doing the same to any printed materials you're working on. Purchase a stand and place it next to your monitor to lessen the strain on your eyes and neck.


If you're uncomfortable also with your devices' pre-installed settings, you may adjust the brightness, contrast and font sizes to where you're comfortable. Many people find it easier on their eyes to enlarge the text on their computer screens and mobile phones, with some wanting their screens to be dimmer due to high light sensitivity. Find what's optimal for your eyesight, prioritising your comfort over factory settings.


While on the topic of your work area, we recommend keeping your desk free of clutter. Not only does this help you focus on your tasks better, but you're also lessening the strain on your eyes when you look away from your screen.


  1. Rest your eyes from screen exposure


Now that you've adjusted your external surroundings, you should also address any vision problems you might have. No matter how minor, your eyesight needs all the help it can get to reduce vision stress while you're driving, reading and working. In line with this, we recommend getting an eye exam every year and getting prescription glasses.


Of course, your glasses should meet the demand of your job. Your reading glasses cannot be used for a computer screen. Tell your doctor what kind of tasks you do for work and measure the sight distances so that you can get lenses that are specifically for computer work. This also includes choosing blue light filters.


If you're not diagnosed with any vision problems, we still recommend taking some time to rest your eyes from time to time. For this, we recommend the 20-20-20 exercise. Set your alarm to notify you every 20 minutes. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. In one study, scientists found that people blink 18 times per minute, but only blink one-fourth of that when they're on the computer.


During your short exercise, make a conscious effort to blink your eyes or to use some eye drops. You can also increase the humidity of your room to decrease the risk of developing dry eyes. Another way to combat dry eye is to adjust the thermostat and reduce blowing air. Certain habits such as smoking can also cause your eyes to dry.


Sometimes, following the 20-20-20 rule isn't enough and you need to rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of prolonged computer use. Many of us have the habit of binge-watching shows on streaming websites, watching a show for six to eight hours or until we fall asleep. In between episodes, we recommend walking around your room for a while to take your eyes off the screen. You can do the same during work hours, using the time to drink another glass of water or running a short errand.


Too much screentime not only strains your eyes but also hinders sleep. Your brain won't have enough time to slow down and prepare you for rest, resulting in a jilted slumber. After work, start decreasing your time online to encourage the process of falling asleep.


During weekends or days off, we also recommend finding offline alternative activities that will help your eyes recuperate from your bright screens. Activities like journaling, listening to audiobooks or trying out a new recipe also help stimulate your brain and absorb new information. Before bed, you can use Wellcare's 4D DWF heating pad to relax your muscles and reduce any symptoms of eye twitching and strain. When Monday rolls around, you'll be ready to work efficiently without suffering any computer vision syndrome symptoms.


Setting your limits


Your eyes are important for perceiving and interacting with your environment. When you're able to create a better work environment and use prescribed corrective lenses, you're less likely to develop digital eye strain. Above all, it's also important to recognise that your eyes need regular rest. Without taking some needed time off, your performance at work can be affected.


From heating pads, heating cushions, foot warmers to electric blankets, Wellcare has a wide range of solutions to help you sleep better and keep your feet warm at all times. For your complete warmth, comfort, and safety, these are made using only the finest available materials.


Our products are also equipped with the 4D Dynamic Warmth Flow system (4D DWF). Innovation in electric heating technology, the 4D DWF mimics the human body’s breathing to ensure even heat distribution throughout the surface of the product.


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Topics: Health & Wellness Info


Written by Wellcare

Wellcare Co., LTD. was established in 1995 with “increasing the value of life and creating family happiness” as the company’s original goal with a focus on delivering better life experience through healthcare products and relaxation technologies.

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