These steps will help you ease the strain on your eyes brought on by incessant use of digital devices

Constant exposure to digital devices can cause the eyes to become dry, red, teary, itchy and tired- a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS.

Myupchar September 03, 2019 13:32:49 IST
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These steps will help you ease the strain on your eyes brought on by incessant use of digital devices
  • Constant exposure to digital devices can cause the eyes to become dry, red, teary, itchy and tired

  • CVS (also known as Visual Fatigue and Digital Eye Strain) comprises a range of eye and vision problems related to computer use

  • Simple steps like adjusting the angle of your screen, using anti-glare filters, putting artificial teardrops in your eyes, and looking away from your screen every twenty minutes can go a long way to prevent CVS

The past few weeks were a bonanza for TV buffs. From new seasons of Sacred Games and 13 Reasons Why to the online release of Bharat, there were many reasons to hog the Internet bandwidth. That is if, like most of Generation Z, you stream everything on your laptop.

Of course, these launch events were just another reason to spend several hours glued to our computer screens, tablets and mobile devices - something we do daily for work, browsing and Netflixing.

These steps will help you ease the strain on your eyes brought on by incessant use of digital devices

Representative image. Image by William Iven from Pixabay

Constant viewing, however, can take a toll on the eyes, which can become dry, red, teary, itchy and tired from overusing our devices - a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS.

Indeed, CVS is quite common. One peer-reviewed study pegged the number of people suffering from CVS at more than 60 million globally. In India, a recent study with 150 employees at a technology company in Indore showed that 87.3% of the participants suffered from aesthenopia. A common complaint among people suffering from CVS, aesthenopia includes a number of symptoms such as sore eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty sensation in the eyes and extra sensitivity to light.

Happily, the India-based study, published in the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health on March 2019, also suggested a strong link between awareness of CVS and the uptake of simple prevention methods.

Cause and effect

CVS (also known as Visual Fatigue and Digital Eye Strain) comprises a range of eye and vision problems related to computer use. Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, tired eyes, redness and burning sensation in the eyes, and difficulty in shifting focus between objects that are close to you and those that are farther away.

Besides long hours of uninterrupted computer use, poor posture, lighting, office design, wrong viewing angle and computer glare have all been associated with CVS. Studies show that infrequent and incomplete blinking while working on a computer, poor eyesight and dry eyes can all make you more susceptible to CVS.

Though “vision” is right in the middle of its name, CVS also covers some extra-ocular symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain that arise from some of the same factors like long periods of sitting in front of the computer with poor posture and lighting.

Identify your strain

In 'Management of Digital Eye Strain', published in the January 2019 edition of Clinical and Experimental Optometry, a bi-monthly peer-reviewed journal, researchers Chantal Cole-Brennan et al. divided CVS into five types of eye strain.

The first of these produces vision-related symptoms like frontal headaches and sore eyes that are more prevalent in people who already have poor eyesight, including presbyopia or age-related hardening of the lens in the eye.

The second type is oculomotor-related, where the eyes have trouble focusing and converging on an image. The symptoms, in this case, include double vision and difficulty in shifting focus from objects near you to those that are farther away.

Dry eye or ocular surface-related strain is the third and can lead to symptoms such as redness and itchiness in the eyes. They can also lead to blurry vision and tearing.

Environmental factors like high temperature, low humidity, poor lighting are the fourth and can lead to neck, shoulder, back pain, glare and headaches.

Finally, device-related strain can depend on a number of factors from the size of the screen to the distance you put between you and the screen. Typically, the smaller the screen, the closer you're likely to hold it. These factors can also have a bearing on how often we blink and how properly.

Make it right

Though research on CVS goes back 20 years, studies have just started to scrape the surface of how CVS can affect productivity in the office and lead to more errors. In fact, research shows that some people have symptoms akin to myopia or near-sightedness when their eyes are tired.

The bad news is that the effects of CVS return more quickly and more violently with regular exposure to the exacerbating factors. The good news is that the symptoms of CVS are transient - they pass when the factors causing the strain are removed. Plus, simple steps like adjusting the angle of your screen, using anti-glare filters, putting artificial teardrops in your eyes and looking away from your screen every twenty minutes can go a long way to prevent CVS.

Light touch

The right lighting in the room can make a world of difference. Avoid overhead fluorescent lights and bright lights - anything that casts a glare on the screen. Simply shift your seat to avoid the glare, or better yet, put up appropriate blinds to block the light. Wearing anti-glare glasses can help, too.

Keep your distance

The proper distance between you and the screen can help prevent CVS. Researchers recommend placing your laptop 35-40 inches away. It also helps to have the height of the screen just right - try placing the computer in a way that the middle of the screen is five or six inches below eye level for you.

Resolution solution

Compared to a book or newsprint, our eyes have to work extra hard when they are seeing something on a screen - there’s research to show that both resolution and the rate at which your screen refreshes matter. As much as possible, read on a high-resolution screen because the text is sharper and easier on the eyes.

Stop and stare

You don’t need research to tell you that extended periods of looking at the screen can make your eyes tired and irritated. You’ve probably experienced this first-hand. When tiredness threatens to slow you down, find a spot on a wall 20 meters away, and stare at it for 20 seconds or more. Try doing this every 20 minutes.

Blink and you miss it

Research shows we blink less when we focus on anything at close quarters - whether you’re reading a physical book or an e-book, the blink rate slows down. When you are reading on the screen, try and blink consciously. Make sure to close the eyes fully in every blink.

No more dryness

Dry eyes are both a symptom and a cause for further CVS. Keep your eyes lubricated. Eyedrops that contain artificial tears can help flush the eyes out and make you more comfortable instantly.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/dry-eyes

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