Computer Vision SYNDROMe
Digital media are now a major part of most of our lives. While we are enjoying new gadgets and technology, the overuse of digital devices can be harmful to the eyes as devices emit blue light, which can damage eyes over time and lead to Computer Vision Syndrome.
WHAT IS COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME?
Computer vision syndrome is the name for a group of eye and vision symptoms that might be experienced as a result of extended periods of viewing digital devices.
These symptoms include eye strain, red or tired eyes, irritation, blurred vision, double vision and headaches.
For most of us, our eyes prefer to focus further than six metres away, so viewing a computer screen forces our eyes to work harder. Often the type we are viewing on a digital device can be small or unclear, and glare is emitted off the screen from the blue light. Also, while it’s normal for us to blink about 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink far less often while using digital devices.
The combination of these unique characteristics and our eyes having to work harder can often lead to difficulty. The extent to which people experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time looking at a digital screen.
The muscles which control eye movements and focusing are typically relaxed when we look at objects in the distance. Extended periods of focusing on screens up close results in the muscles having to exert significant focusing effort to make these objects clear. As with any of the muscles in the body they can fatigue and tire out if not given the opportunity to rest and relax occasionally. Often the type we are viewing on a digital device can be small or unclear, and glare from screens may also exacerbate problems. The frequency of blue light emitted from LED devices is also being researched for its long term effects on the eye and potential impact on altering sleep cycles. Also, while it’s normal for us to blink about 15 times a minute, studies have shown that we blink far less often while using digital devices resulting in dry, scratchy and red eyes.
To reduce risks, screen time should be balanced with getting outside for some ‘green time’. Regular breaks (looking up and away into the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and taking a five-minute break every hour) may also assist.