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Healthy Eyes in the Work Place
Digital eye strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is becoming one of the most commonly reported complaints received by optometrists from patients. It involves a group of symptoms including headache, eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck or shoulder pain. Research has found that there may be an association between these symptoms and prolonged computer or digital device usage—and they believe the blue wavelengths of light are responsible.
While the anterior structures of the eye, like the cornea and lens, are good at blocking ultraviolet light from reaching the retina (the light sensitive cells in the back of the eye), they are not as efficient at blocking light from the blue end of the spectrum. The blue light is composed of shorter wavelengths of light that have higher energy. When this high-energy light enters the eye, it scatters and becomes difficult to focus resulting in reduced contrast perception. This creates more eye strain as your eye has to work harder to see clearly.
Although the greatest source of blue light in the environment is the sun, digital devices such as smart phones, tablets, computers, and televisions are another common source of exposure. As the amount of time we spend on these devices is growing, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of people who are experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.
There are several different things you can do in order to reduce the effects of digital eye strain.
· Many different lens manufacturers have developed coatings and lenses that can be added to your glasses to filter a percentage of the blue light reaching your eye from both natural sunlight and digital devices. Photochromatic lenses also provide protection from blue light with the added benefit of built in UV protection as well. Yellow or amber tinted lenses are also available and can help to increase contrast perception.
· 20/20/20 Rule: In order to reduce strain while using the computer, it is recommended that every 20 minutes, you look 20 feet away at a distance object, for at least 20 seconds.
· The American Optometric Association recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the screen, usually 20-28 inches, where you can easily read all text. Your head and torso should be in an upright position with your back supported by your chair.
· Blinking more often can help minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer. You can also use a lubricating artificial tear to refresh your eyes if they are feeling dry or tired.
If you think you may be suffering from digital eye strain, make an appointment with your optometrist today for a full evaluation.