Working at a computer can hurt you back, neck and head, but it’s perhaps your eyes that suffer most. If you experience digital eye strain — sometimes called computer vision syndrome — you’re not alone. It seems that most people do. But there actions you can take to reduce your symptoms.
Millions of us find relief with computer glasses, low power reading glasses and other things designed to make us feel better over the short term, but those aren’t the only things you can do to find relief. Did you know that self-massage around your eyes can help? That’s just one of things we’ll discuss in this brief article.
Most Of Us Have Digital Eye Strain
As many as 90 percent of workers have computer vision syndrome, neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes, headaches and other symptoms caused by sitting and staring too much, according to the American Optometric Association. As we get older, it gets worse because age-related presbyopia causes us to need glasses for close-up tasks anyway.
In addition, older eyes needs less glare, more light and different viewing distances than younger ones, but few of us make the necessary adjustments as we age. Some experts suggest that workers over the age of 50 actually need twice as much light as younger workers, but few older workers have additional lighting at their desks.
For many, reading glasses don’t help. Computer monitors are at an intermediate distance, and traditional glasses don’t work well at that distance. That’s why so many of us turn to computer reading glasses — specs made just for using the computer. They have glare-reduction and other important features built right in.
Take Action Now
Before your computer vision problem gets worse than it is now, it’s important to take action to improve your digital eye strain symptoms.
Here are four things you can do immediately that could make a huge difference — and you may be able to avoid getting computer reading glasses for a while:
1. Increase the print size on your monitor. When you can, zoom in or magnify your work. Edit text and numbers in 14 point text and larger. And don’t move in toward the monitor to see better. Move back and increase the text size instead. The farther you can get from the glaring screen, the better.
2. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. It’s simple, really: After every 20 minutes you spend staring at your computer, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away. That can be hard to do in some homes and offices, but it relaxes eye muscles and gives you a chance to blink too.
3. Use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops. We forget to blink when we’re working or playing at the computer, but eye drops can help restore the lubrication we let evaporate away. Chose products that don’t contain preservatives so you can confidently use them as often as you like. Just don’t use drops with any kind of redness remover. These may help for a while but make your problem worse over time.
4. Relieve pain by massaging eyelids and facial muscles. The muscles over your eyebrows, near your temples and on your upper cheek can get soar when you overuse your eyes, so massage them daily. Be sure your hands are completely clean to avoid spreading bacteria to the eye area that can cause additional symptoms. In addition to relaxing muscles, this can stimulate your tear ducts to help wash and moisten your eyes, reducing digital eye strain symptoms.
Modern life has its consequences, and our eyes are often the most neglected and abused parts of our bodies — despite their importance.
Take care of your eyes and practice better work habits so you can avoid the symptoms of digital eye strain and live a happier life. As it turns out, you don’t have to give up your computer to make your eyes feel better. You just have to give up your bad habits.
And it’s worth making a few lifestyle changes to feel better and see better every day.