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The Surprising Reason for Your Red, Achy Eyes

It’s the end of a long workday. Your body and brain are ready for a break. You may not realize that your eyes need one too. Looking at a computer screen all day, your eyes get redder, drier and more irritated, and when you get home, you unwind with even more screen time. By bedtime, you may experience burning eyes, double or blurred vision, headaches or neck and shoulder pain – all symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.


What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, is a group of eye discomfort issues and vision problems that result from prolonged digital screen use. It can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. The symptoms may be caused by issues such as poor lighting, screen glare, uncorrected vision problems or improper desk configurations.

A 2014 study estimated that 64 percent to 90 percent of office workers are affected by Computer Vision Syndrome. While it does not cause permanent eye damage, it puts a strain on a vitally important part of your body. Screen time is a fact of life for just about everyone, but there are ways to manage your eye health while using computers or mobile devices for work or play.

Four tips to help.

Here are four things you can do to help protect your eyes, as recommended by the American Optometric Association.

1. Use the 20-20-20 rule and other rest tactics: Give your eyes some respite during the day. Set an alert to notify you after every 20 minutes of screen time. Take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. While working, remember to blink frequently. If your eyes begin to feel strained, massage the area around them or rub your hands together to create friction then gently cup your palms over your closed eyes.

2. Check the tech: Keep your monitor clean, install an anti-glare screen and set your monitor as bright as possible. If strain is becoming a problem, consider computer glasses that optimize eyesight when looking at screens.

3. Ensure proper work space design: Pull down window shades around your screen when sunlight is bright. Make sure surrounding lighting is dim and balanced. You want to avoid harsh lighting that creates shadows on the screen.

4. Visit the eye doctor: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends that all computer users have an eye exam yearly. Find a local optometrist or ophthalmologist to consult about screen use and eye health, and check whether the provider works with your health plan.