When the computer is a pain in the eye

Eyes Wise

When the computer  is a pain in the eye

Dr Rohit Shetty explains how prolonged working on the computer can cause computer vision syndrome. Many of us are quite familiar and used to situations where our eyes start hurting every time we work on computers, or any other digital monitors be it smart phones, tabs or even while watching TV.

The eye pain also comes along with pinching headache and persistent pain in our neck, back and shoulder.

Majority of us tend to ignore this discomfort assuming this to be a normal weariness because of work pressure or stress and try to continue with work despite the tangible increase and persistence in pain. The phenomenon is extremely prevalent among working professionals, students and all those spending 3-4 hours in front of computer screens.

Though normally overlooked, this medical condition – known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) – has become one of the most common health problems of our time. It not only leads to several other complexities such as chronic headache and vision loss but is also hampering the productivity to large extent. Estimates say this affects productivity by 4-19 per cent.

"Computer Vision Syndrome", a set of eye problems caused by staring at a screen for long periods of time without taking a break. Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes. Many of us may already have the syndrome and not even realize it.

CVS is caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on the screen than they do to printed characters. When you view digital media devices in close range, thousands of pixels that make up the content you read are not as visually simplified as say printed text.

Our eyes have little problem focusing on most printed material, which is characterized by dense black characters with well-defined edges.

Healthy eyes can easily maintain focus on the printed page. Characters on a computer screen, however, don't have this contrast or well-defined edges. These characters (pixels) are brightest at the center and diminish in intensity toward their edges. This makes it very difficult for our eyes to maintain focus and remain fixed onto these images
Looking at a computer screen forces your eyes to work harder.

The ciliary muscles that controls accommodation for viewing objects at varying distances, work the most when one is viewing at digital device. These muscles get exhausted if you are engrossed in close range reading, some time with very less blinking.

There are multiple causes leading to CVS. Prolonged viewing is the most common cause and it has been proven to be unnatural for the human optical system. Human eyes need to blink approximately 14 times per minute. During computer use humans blink only 4 to 6 times per minute. The inadequacy in blinking leads to dry eyes and put extreme strain on eye muscles.

CVS can be kept at bay by wearing computer eyeglasses. They eliminate the constant refocusing effort that your eyes go through when viewing the screen. It has also been proven clinically that having the correct prescription in computer eyeglasses increases productivity and accuracy. If you work in a brightly lit office, you may benefit from a light tint applied to your computer lenses.

This can cut the amount of light that reaches your eyes and provide relief in some cases. More than 70% of computer users need computer eyeglasses. According to a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, 25%-30% of children would benefit from computer eyewear.

Proper lighting also decreases the eyestrain. Exterior light can be eliminated by closing drapes, shades, or blinds while the interior lighting can be reduced by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes or by using lower intensity bulbs and tubes.

Other measures factors to reduce the risks of CVS include minimizing glare, adjusting the brightness of your computer screen, exercising and stretching your eyes, blinking more often and by taking frequent breaks from the computer screen.

If symptoms are worse or the eye sight is deteriorating, one must consult an
eye care professional at the earliest possible.

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