Headaches, loss of focus, burning eyes, double or blurred vision or neck and shoulder pain is not uncommon among peope who use computers for more than two hours at a stretch. The condition is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Its symptoms are eye strain and tiredness, temporary weak vision, dry irritated eyes, light sensitivity and other vision and muscular problems that stem from using a computer.
People who are already nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism are more likely to develop computer vision syndrome. Multi-focal lenses make it even more difficult because the screen is higher and further away from the zones meant for distance and near vision. Glare from surrounding lamps and lights can also add to eyestrain.
1. Use proper lighting: The ambient lighting should be about half of that used in most offices. If possible, position your monitor so that windows are at its side, instead of in front or at the back.
2. Adjust the brightness of your computer screen: Closely match the brightness of the environment with that of your computer screen by using the buttons on the monitor. Also adjust the monitor to make sure the contrast between the screen background and the on-screen characters is high. And make sure that the text size and colour are optimised for comfort.
3. Blink often: Blinking moisturises your eyes and helps avoid dryness and irritation. According to studies, people blink about five times less than usual when working at a computer. Every 30 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes very slowly as if falling asleep.
4. Exercise and stretch your eyes: Look away from your computer screen every 30 minutes and focus for 5-10 seconds on a distant object outside.
5. Take frequent breaks: Follow 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
6. Reposition your workstation: If you need to look back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen, this can cause eye-strain. Place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height. Purchase ergonomic furniture to insure proper screen locations and posture.
Dr Sachdev is the chairman and medical director, Centre for Sight Group of Eye Hospitals, New Delhi