With society’s addiction to their digital devices (think computers, tablets, e-readers, smart phones and televisions) more and more people are complaining about eye strain; so much so, that eye experts have dubbed the condition Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
The eye’s natural focal point is about 20 feet from the face but most people sit only two feet (or less) from a computer screen. This causes eye muscles to continually contract in order to redirect focus resulting in CVS.
“Everything we’re looking at now is at arm’s distance from us,” explains Kamloops optometrist Dr. Robbin Shamenski. “When the eyes have to be focused on a consistent distance for longer than they want to, they’ll go in and out of focus and they’ll become strained.”
Symptoms of CVS include increased migraines, blurry vision, near-sightedness and dry eyes. Studies show that the average person blinks 16 times per minute, sweeping away debris and keeping eyes well moistened for optimum performance. When enthralled with whatever’s on their computer screen, however, most people only blink 6 times a minute, causing dry and irritated eyes.
For those people that spend a huge portion of their lives staring at screens, is there a way to combat CVS?
“Looking away from the screen is the easiest thing,” says Shamenski. “Blinking helps a lot, because when you’re concentrating on something you don’t blink as much. Looking away at a different distance will help with blurry eyes.”
Shamenski also recommends paying a visit to your local optometrist to confirm whether or not your vision has changed, warranting a need for glasses.
“Even people who don’t need glasses can get CVS, so get your eyes checked to see if glasses would solve the problem if blinking and looking away doesn’t,” she says.
While you may not have any choice but to spend hours a day in front of screens, you do have a choice as to how you treat your eyes and, with small breaks, and taking a moment or two throughout the day to gaze off in the distance, you too can keep CVS at bay.