Mom (or Grandma!) may have been right. “Don’t sit too close to the T.V. or you’ll go blind!” Did your parents tell you of the ill effects of watching too much television?! Were you told your eyes will go square from sitting too close?!
This warning may have come from the early days of television when television sets emitted radiation. Radiation is no longer a risk, but we sit in front of video games, tablets and computer screens and damaging your eyesight is still a reality. Your eyes may not go square, but sitting too close to your computer can create eye strain and adverse effects on your vision.
Computer Usage Risks Eye Health
It is hard to believe that many of us didn’t even know how to turn on a computer a decade or so ago. Today, even this Grandma is surfing the thing called Internet (for recipes, mostly!) and my grandchildren are learning their ABCs on small hand-held computer screens.
If you are reading this, then I think it is safe to assume you use a computer on a regular basis. I know Joe and those that work at Barton Publishing sit in front of a computer all day – just to work. If you use a computer for part of your job, then use the computer or tablet for personal usage, then chances are you are spending at least 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen.
What is the result? Eye strain. Our eyes just aren’t designed to stare at a flat screen for hours and hours. As a result, your eyes have to work overtime to keep things in focus. Like any other muscle in our body when they are fatigued, the strained eye muscles produce blurry vision, headaches and fatigue – maybe even your forehead feels “fried.”
The muscles inside your eyes are very much like a lens on a camera. They change the shape and size of your eye when you are focusing on an object (they don’t actually become square – thank goodness!). But when you look at things up close, like a computer screen, for long periods of time, the muscles become stressed.
Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosis
Maybe your job requires hours of work at a computer. Maybe you like to spend your free time surfin’ the Net. Whatever the reason, your body is probably feeling the effects of spending too much time logged on—tired eyes, headaches, neck pain, etc. This is now identified as Computer Vision Syndrome!
Luckily, help is on the way. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is temporary condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer display for extended, uninterrupted periods of time. Some symptoms of CVS include:
Thankfully, CVS will not permanently damage the eyes or cause a loss of vision. Though it is one of the most common medical ailments that can affect learning and working. In fact, it is now the number one computer-related complaint in the United States – ahead of carpal-tunnel syndrome.
The way I see it, we are going to be using more and more computers of various shapes and sizes far more as time goes by. I don’t want anything to keep me from seeing pictures of my grandchildren on Facebook, watching my daughter sing on Youtube or reading Joe’s articles online. It won’t be mind that keeps me from growing. It won’t be my health that keeps me from learning. And it won’t be my eyes that keep me from reading.
Here are some tips and techniques that I gathered for you to minimize the impact of CVS and relax, refresh and reduce eye strain.
5 Tips to Curb your Screen Habits
The average human being blinks 20 times a minute – but only 7 times a minute when using a computer. The longer the eye remains open between blinks, the more likely the cornea is to dehydrate, burn or ache. Blink often to keep the eyes moist. It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears.
2. Look Away
For every 20 minutes that you spend watching television, reading, or working on the computer, stare at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Better yet, take a 10-minute bathroom break at least every two hours, even if you don’t have to go. Walk there, back or anywhere, letting your eyes idle. Hey, chit-chat with a co-worker while you are at it and ask them how they are doing!
3. Eye Exercises
- Bring an object (such as a pen) as close to your eyes as possible while still being able to focus on the object clearly, then focus on an object 10 feet away from you. Repeat this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes several times per day.
- Roll your eyes upward towards your eyebrows, and then roll your eyes in a large circle. Repeat every few hours when using your computer or watching television to combat Computer Vision Syndrome.
4. Try Palming
“Palm” your eyes by covering them with the palms of your hands, blocking out the light completely for 1 to 3 minutes several times a day.
Palming is one of the most relaxing things you can do for your eyes. Jeff, one of Home Cures That Work and Barton Publishing’s valuable contributors, can testify that he knows exactly what it feels like to have strained eyes and what to do to remedy CVS:
“When my eyes get strained and tired while staring at the computer screen all day, I enjoy Palming. I take my glasses off – very important first step there – and I cup the palms of my hands over my eyes.
When you try it, make sure the ‘pinky’ sides of you hands are on either side of your nose and rest the fingers of your right hand on those of your left.
Then open your eyes to make sure you’ve blocked all or most of the light. Then close your eyes and relax. You might want to rest your elbows on a pillow so you don’t strain your arms. Don’t squeeze just cover your eyes and enjoy the break.
Sometimes I see ghost images of the last things I was looking at – that’s pretty cool! When the ghost images disappear, and everything’s just dark – that’s when I figure I’ve done it long enough.
Shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. And I do it whenever I feel strained…it’s perfectly safe. They even say it helps improve eyesight – but have yet to experience that angle!”
5. Monitor and Screen Changes
- If you found that you are feeling dizzy after being on the computer all day, but subsides after you stop using the computer, only to come back the next day as soon as you get back on the computer, then turn down the brightness on your screen.
- In addition, position your monitor so you are looking down, not up. Tilt your screen slightly downward, so its center is about 4 to 8 inches below eye level. Then, you need to sit at least 65cm away from your computer screen because sitting close requires the muscles in your eyes to work harder.
6. Try Natural Home Remedies
- This might sound funny, but put potato slices on your closed eyes for about 20 minutes. If you eyes are burning, itchy and irritated, this old homemade remedy just might help you. Raw potato has drying and disinfectant properties, as well as being a rich source of vitamin C. Store potato slices in water in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help sooth your eyes.
- Rose water is a relaxer and can be used as eye drops for soothing effect in tired and fatigued eyes. Wash and flush your eyes in cool tap water. Dry by dabbing with a clean towel, but do not rub. Let rest for a few minutes and wash and flush with cotton balls soaked in rose water. Do this at bedtime and before sleeping apply the soaked cotton balls to eyelids and leave overnight. In the morning, rinse again. The benefits are clean fresh sparkling healthy eyes. You’ll feel more awake and alive. Make sure you remove all eye make up before washing with rose water.
In a world full of personal computers, hand-held video games, smartphones and e-readers, and hours of television, eye-related problems such as Computer Vision Syndrome are increasing in many Americans. Before your eyes are badly strained, have blurry vision and needlessly suffer headaches, follow these tips before it reaches a critical stage.
My last piece of advise to you would be to shut down. Your retinas need rest like the rest of the body. Here’s another quip that my Mom use to tell me and I’ll share with you to help overcome eye strain: Hit the hay!
Have you relieved your computer eye strain? Have you tried anti-glare glasses? What are you natural eye remedies after sitting in front of a computer all day?