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Are Computer Screens Bad for Your Eyes?

Many of us use computers for hours upon hours each day, whether it be professionally, recreationally, or simply to check our E-mail. Despite the obvious benefits of modern technology, rarely do we take the time to consider its detriments.

One of the top pitfalls of using computers for hours on end is the strain it puts on our eyes. Studies show that between 50 and 90 percent of individuals whose work requires computer usage show signs of eye trouble. In fact, the issue is so common, a name has been coined for it: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

There are many possible causes of the aforementioned eyestrain, however, the two primary culprits are the positioning of the computer screen in question, and the number of hours spent in front of it. The average individual blinks about 18 times a minute, however, this rate is significantly reduced while staring at a computer, smartphone or tablet. This lack of regular blinking compounded by often ceaseless focus for hours on end are the two primary contributors of CVS.

Some of the categorizing symptoms of eyestrain and/or Computer Vision Syndrome are sore, dry, or teary eyes, blurred vision, heightened sensitivity to light, neck pain, headaches, or a combination of any of the above.

Give Your Eyes a Break!

So what can be done to help prevent the all-to-prevalent annoyances of CVS? Instead of accepting the regular toll that electronic screens can take on our eyes, there are steps that can be taken to prevent it.

The first, and probably least known remedy is to lower the position of your computer screen. "Because conventional reading is normally done with the book or magazine held in a lowered position, having your monitor in a straight-ahead position is unnatural," explains Dr. Brian Wachler, a professional ophthalmologist. Instead, Dr. Wachler suggests lowering the screen until the top of the screen is level with the eyes of the viewer, so as to allow for a slightly lower, more natural viewing angle.

Secondly, the viewer should sit an optimal 20-40 inches away from the computer screen and remember to breathe and blink regularly. Excessive proximity to the screen forces our eyes to strain and focus more vigorously, tiring them out more quickly and causing CVS. Furthermore, due to the reduction in our rate of blinking while focusing on a monitor, it is important to regulate one’s blinking and breathing, so as moisten the eyes and relax the ocular muscles.

Finally, and most obviously, is the integration of regular breaks into your work schedule. Dr. Wachler suggest the 20-20-20 rule: “Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet away”. Remember, your eyes need rest just like every other muscle in your body. Through the utilization of these three, simple steps, you can drastically reduce the aggravations of eyestrain and even improve your overall health.​