Conquering Computer Vision Syndrome

April 1, 2020

Computer Vision Syndrome, or digital eye strain, is the medical term for symptoms caused by digital devices. Most people quarantined at home are not working the typical 8-hour day on the computer, but still spend hours looking at a cell phone, laptop, or tablet for entertainment. If you are fortunate to have the ability to work from home, computer vision syndrome is still a factor to consider. The most common symptoms are eye fatigue, headaches, fluctuating or blurred vision, and dry eyes. Symptoms are typically worse while actively on the device, however, they may persist even after stopping.


4 tips on avoiding computer vision syndrome

1. Follow the 20-20-20 Rule

No matter where you are working, the 20-20-20 Rule still applies. For every 20 minutes on a device, look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking in the distance allows the eye muscles to relax, blink rate increases, and the focusing system gets a break. The normal blink rate is 15 to 20 times per minute, but people blink less than half that amount while staring at a digital device. If working from home, it might be beneficial to get up and walk a lap around the house. Being quarantined inside the house doesn’t mean that we need to be sedentary.


2. Move to the Table or Desk

While it may be tempting to work from the couch or recliner, it is not a sustainable setup. Reading efficiency and comfort is best achieved when looking downward about 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. This is imperative for people wearing progressive (no-line bifocal) glasses to ensure the correct part of the lenses are being utilized. Working from the couch affects posture and can make you feel tired (you might even fall asleep!). You are also more likely to have distractions from the tv being turned on in the living room. The best way to stay productive is to recreate your normal workspace at home. Arranging an ideal space will minimize distractions, increase productivity, and resume a sense of routine.


3. Adjust the Lighting

A perk of working at home is the lack of industrial, overhead florescent lighting. Use natural light from outside, overhead lights in the room, and desk lamps as needed. Make adjustments to suit your personal preferences since you don’t have to share your office lighting and space with other co-workers. Additionally, adjust the brightness settings on the computer to minimize glare and eye strain. Since you might be working on a smaller computer screen at home than you are accustomed to using at the office, enlarge the text size as necessary.


4. Limit Screen Time

Even adults need to limit screen time. While it is convenient and entertaining to binge watch videos or constantly scroll through social media on our phones, it contributes to computer vision syndrome. Put the phone down and spend quality time with those living under the same roof. Get outside, take the dog for a walk, play a board game, work on a jigsaw puzzle – anything that doesn’t involve a digital screen. While there is a lot of heavy, negative news on our phones and televisions surrounding the pandemic, it is important to take advantage of this extra time at home with family. Limit screen time, try to enjoy the slowed-down life, and appreciate the time with those around you.

Stay safe and healthy!