Computer Vision Syndrome is a topic that has become relevant now that more & more people are working from home as part of the measures to contain Covid. This has resulted in many more hours spent in front of a screen (computer, phone, or tablet), in most of the cases.
I posted an article on blue light in July 2020, and there will be some overlap, but the subject needs to be emphasized. CVS is defined when a person spends more than 3 continuous hours in front of a screen. The reality is most people spend closer to 8 hours a day with few breaks in between. I will list the effects of CVS and end off with some suggestions. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint; so every small measure you implement will have a profound effect in the long term.
Recapping light-the sun emits visible & invisible light.
Visible light-think 7 colours of the rainbow with each colour having a different energy.
Invisible light: from the blue side of the spectrum we have UV (ultra-violet), X-Rays, Gamma Rays & Cosmic Rays-these are all high energy.
From the red side of the spectrum we have infrared, microwave, radar, radio etc.
The take home message on the BLUE LIGHT part that contributes to CVS, is that although UVA can give you sunburn, and UVB can cause skin cancer, these invisible, higher energy rays do not penetrate as deeply into the eye as visible blue light does. And all screens emit visible blue light. Prolonged exposure to this blue light will cause a dry eye, it will mess with your internal clock (see my article on blue light from July 2020), and as also been linked to macular degeneration (one of the top 3 causes of blindness), as well as cataracts.
Then there are all the other factors linked to CVS:
POSTURAL which affect the neck, wrist, and rotator cuff muscles as well as the hip flexor and related hip muscles. See your biokineticist or related professional for more information.
PSYCHOLOGICAL: from excessive fatigue, depression etc. These factors do not work in isolation, and are easy to understand when seen in the big picture of less social interaction, sleep deprivation etc.
THERE ARE NO SOLUTIONS, ONLY SMALL CHANGES THAT WE MUST TRY AND MAKE, TO IMPROVE OUR QUALITY OF LIFE.
Some of the suggestions listed below may sound simple, but many are the fruit of research into Myopia Control (the PC word for this is Myopia Management), and I have posted articles on this subject. If you are a parent, this is an important subject to read & understand. Our Orthokeratology or Ortho-K overnight wear lens is related to this. So the advice is based on good research.
- Lubricate your eyes. Do not consider using a lubricant only if you have been diagnosed with a dry eye. The same way you do not wait until your skin cracks before you use a moisturiser. Do not use the lubricant once or twice a day, it is not enough. Do use a preservative-free lubricant, I recommend Optive Fusion. For people with a positive dry eye diagnosis, they must follow the full program.
- If at all possible, do not have a fan or aircon blowing directly on your face. This applies in the car too.
- Use a warm compress. This discourages the meibomian glands from getting blocked up-they secrete the oily/fatty part of your tear film which prevents early evaporation. (Dry eyes are mostly from a tear film that evaporates too quickly, and rarely a lack of tears-so the use of the word “dry” is not that accurate). There are many ways to do this, one way is to heat a wetted cotton pad for 5 sec. in the microwave, and apply gentle pressure on your closed eyelids for 30 sec. The pad must not burn, nor must it cool down at the 10 sec mark. And no contact lenses to be worn while doing this.
- Apply the 20/20 rule. After every 20 minutes of screen work, get up and take a 20 second break. Do something physical in this 20 second period that is within your physical capabilities. The increase in circulation, as well as the break in eye contact & eye focus, will benefit you more if done three times an hour than if you took longer breaks less often.
- Ergonomics: Try and position your screen so that you have a slightly downward gaze, as a screen that is positioned too high will hurt your neck as well as make some types of spectacle lenses ineffective. Likewise check the screen distance, chair quality and height etc.
- Try as much as possible to reduce or eliminate screen exposure 2 hours before bedtime.
- Hydrate adequately.
- Any form of physical activity that is within your means & capabilities can only benefit you.
- On your doctor’s advice, some exposure to sunlight for Vit. D is worth considering, especially for children.