Americans spend nearly half their day looking at a screen of some kind. This includes phones, tablets, desktop computers and TVs. So it’s probably not a big surprise that too much screen time can impact your vision and the health of your eyes. Dry eyes and eye strain have become so prevalent that researchers have created a name for this common condition—Computer Vision Syndrome. It affects millions of people across the globe and there’s a good chance you have it.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is what happens when you stare at a computer screen too long and too often. It’s characterized by dry eyes and eye strain and it occurs for roughly 90 percent of people who use computer devices daily. Studies suggests that nearly 5 million men and women over age 50 in the United States experience chronic dry eye and it’s now beginning to affect children who spend time on smartphones. Dr. Matthew Gardiner, an ophthalmologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary says, “It’s most prevalent with computers, and typically occurs when looking at a screen at arm’s length or closer.”
The symptoms of CVS include common dry eye symptoms such as:
Burning or stinging
Decreased or blurred vision
Sensitivity to light
Red, watery eyes
The feeling of having something in your eyes
Difficulty wearing contact lenses and driving at night
Dry eyes from computer use are often caused by a lack of blinking. Dr. Gardiner explains that “When you look at a screen, you’re so involved that you forget to blink. The blink rate goes from 15 times a minute to five or seven times per minute.” Blinking is important for good eye health because it re-establishes the tear film on your eyes that protects them from damage.
Staring at a screen too long can also lead to eye strain. This can be caused by the brightness or glare that reflects from our screens. You may also experience eye strain from focusing too closely on a screen. In this case, you could need reading glasses to help reduce the strain.
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This article submitted by MSRN Member: Pat France