Many of us spend most of our waking life staring at a computer screen. But this isn’t good news for our eyesight. Here, we explain the effects of computer use on eye health and vision and what you can do to mitigate the damage.

Computer vision syndrome

If you’ve ever noticed symptoms like eye strain, headaches, red eyes or blurry vision after a long session at the screen, you’re not alone. Withup to 70 million people worldwide experiencing the effects of extended computer use, so-called computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an occupational hazard of the internet age.

The Effects of Computer Use on Eye Health and Vision: hand pointing at computer screenWhy does computer use affect our vision in this way? It’s all down to how we view the screen. You may think of browsing a screen or tablet as a similar process to reading a paper document. However, our eyes don’t see it quite like that.

While printed characters are easy on the eye, with high definition and a good level of contrast, letters on a screen are more of a challenge. With lower resolution and varying brightness, characters on your computer are bright in the centre but their edges are blurred. When we view words on a computer screen, our eyes have to adjust multiple times in order to focus properly – leading to eye strain if we don’t take regular screen breaks to give them the rest they need.

Practical steps to reduce the damage

While cutting down dramatically on screen use may be the ideal remedy for strained eyes, it’s not practical for people with desk-based occupations. There are, however, many practical steps you can take to reduce the effects of computer use on eye health and vision.

  • Regular screen breaks. Set an alarm every 20 minutes to give your eyes a break. Take a walk across the room and back to correct poor posture at the same time.
  • Screen glare can cause eye strain, but good lighting can help reduce the effects. Adjust the contrast settings on your computer monitor so that the screen feels comfortable to look at. Remove anything that causes glare, such as desk lights, and position your screen so that it isn’t directly in front of or behind a window.
  • Screen distance. Are you too close to your computer? The ideal distance from your eyes to the monitor is about 60-70cm. You should be looking down at your monitor, so that the centre of the screen is lower by an angle of about 20 degrees.
  • Eye test. If you have an untreated existing eye problem like
    myopia or hypermetropia, computer use is likely to worsen the effects. Regular eye tests will uncover any vision problems and ensure that your eyes are treated with the appropriate prescription.
  • Computer glasses. Specially designed spectacles can dramatically reduce the effects of computer use on eye health and vision. Helping the eye to focus on the screen without strain, your computerglasses may have a different prescription from reading glasses, because the object of your focus is a different distance away. Computer glasses can also have anti-reflective coatings and even tinted lenses to help reduce glare.

For more information, contact a member of the Allon Barsam team on 0808 133 2020 or email info@allonbarsam.com.