With the holiday season behind us and 2014 in full effect, many of us are back in to the groove of school and work. So if you have realized that your first full week back to work has brought on the return of the strained, fatigued, red eyes at the end of the day, that annoying eyelid twitch that just won’t go away or that sandy, gritty feeling you get with every blink , you’re most likely experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome, and you’re not alone. In fact, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 88% of us suffer from this (makes you wonder who those lucky 12% are). The symptoms described above are the most common complaints I hear every day from patients, but luckily there are some simple things you can do to help.
1. First things first, get an eye exam
The NIOSH recommends a comprehensive eye exam before beginning computer work and at least once per year after that. During the exam, the doctor will evaluate your vision along with your eye muscles and focusing system. Customized computer glasses can ensure that you are seeing your screen as comfortable as possible. Let your doctor know approximately how many hours you are using the computer on an average day and how far away you are sitting from your screen to help them customize your prescription.
2. Cut the Glare
If you are wearing glasses at the computer, they must have an anti-reflective (AR) coating on the lenses to eliminate reflections and glare from the computer screen, overhead lighting, table lamps and even natural lighting from windows. (As an added bonus, AR coating also improves night vision driving by eliminating the glare). Using an anti-glare screen over the monitor will also help to reduce glare.
3. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
Your eye muscles and focusing system carry a heavy burden if you are like most computer users who spend a majority of their 8-hour work day staring at their monitor. Give your eyes a break periodically throughout the day with the 20-20-20 rule. This means that for every 20 minutes of computer work, look off in to the distance at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This short break will greatly reduce the strain and fatigue your eyes would otherwise feel at the end of the day.
4. Proper Positioning
There are a couple of important numbers you should know to make sure your work area is set up as comfortable and ergonomically correct as possible. Your computer monitor should be 20-24 inches away from your eyes and your computer monitor should sit 10-15 degrees below your eyes. This will ensure that your head and neck are in a comfortable position and will also reduce dryness in the eyes by exposing less tissue on the front of the eyes with a slight downward gaze. This brings me to my last point…
During prolonged computer we blink 77% less than we should. This dries out the corneal tissue on the front of the eyes and is a major culprit of those red, sandy, gritty and sometimes burning, stinging eyes you’re experiencing at the end of the day. I recommend using lubricating eye drops (NOT the “get the red out” drops) before beginning computer work in the morning and then again at the end of your lunch break before getting back to work. Your eye doctor can recommend the best lubricating eye drops specifically for your eyes.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for us below. From all of us at Optic Gallery Summerlin, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.