A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Computer vision syndrome takes toll on eyes

A woman reading a tabletEyes feeling fatigued? Follow the 20/20/20 rule.

If your eyes are feeling fatigued at the end of the day, it may be due to computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include blurry vision, headaches and strained, dry or just plain tired eyes.

Fortunately, something easy can reduce the symptoms of CVS. Just remember the 20/20/20 rule.

When using your computer or other electronic device with a screen, every 20 minutes or so, look at least 20 feet across the room for 20 seconds.

This activates your distance vision and takes a break from near work. If you aren’t in a 20-foot room or are in a cubicle, take time to look out a window or simply close your eyes.

“Most people today spend an increasing number of hours using computers, tablets and smart phones to read increasingly small type,” said Dr. Brad Christopherson, an optometrist at Marshfield Clinic. “For many of us, the result of all this screen time is eye strain.”

About 70% of Americans have Computer Vision Syndrome

“People get CVS because electronic devices require them to do too much ‘near work,’ which strains the muscles in your eyes that focus on near objects and makes them tired,” Christopherson said. “The other problem with near work is that people tend to blink less and that causes eyes to become dry.”

He often hears people who work on computers all day complain tellingly that their “driving home vision” is worse than their “driving to work vision.”

More tips to reduce Computer Vision Syndrome:

  • Place your computer monitor 25 inches away and tilt the screen so you look down as you work.
  • Blink often and remember that deep breathing relaxes eye muscles.
  • Keep some artificial tears – eye drops – on hand or consider a desktop humidifier to put some moisture back into a dry office.
  • Check your eyeglass prescription to make sure you have the correct refraction for your eyes.

“I also recommend that you purchase anti-reflective coating for new eyeglasses, which creates no-glare lenses that result in fewer headaches and less eye fatigue caused by computer screens and overhead lights,” Christopherson said.

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