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Working with computers: Is your screen affecting your health?

These days, we all spend a lot of time looking at a screen, whether it’s a computer, a smartphone or just a regular TV. As helpful as our devices can be, all this screen time can have a detrimental impact on our vision. Optometrist VANESSA THAI gives us the rundown on how to know when we’ve had too much, and how to manage eye fatigue.

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With the surge in the use of electronic devices – computers, tablets, and phones, the number of patients suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is also steadily rising. Digital eye fatigue and discomfort occur as a result of prolonged time spent focusing or concentrating at near distances in a sustained manner, and this poses a concern, particularly in younger patients with developing eyes and visual systems.

What to look out for

Symptoms of eye fatigue include:

  • frontal headaches
  • eye strain
  • irritated, dry eyes (a result of reduced blinking)
  • blurred vision
  • slow focusing
  • light sensitivity
  • double vision

What to do

To manage and reduce eye fatigue you should:

  • take periodic two-minute breaks from computer work by blinking and focusing on distant objects – a good excuse to look out the window!
  • try tear supplements or lubricants for dry eyes
  • position the computer approximately 40 to 45cm away from you, and squarely in front of you
  • position other documents immediately next to the computer to reduce eye movements and focusing changes
  • in some cases, wearing spectacles for computer use and reading may help; an optometrist will be able to advise you if you need glasses
  • ensure you have adequate office lighting and minimise glare and reflections on the screen

If you spend any amount of time looking at a screen, or if you find yourself experiencing any issues with your eyes or vision, it’s advised that you have routine comprehensive eye examinations by a Part 1 Registered Optometrist to ensure there are no underlying vision problems.

Vanessa has worked at Polytechnic University’s School of Optometry, co-authored a chapter on Asia for the global resource, “Optometric Care within the Public Health Community”, and currently consults at Matilda International Hospital and iSight Optometric Eyecare Centre (Crawford House, Central).

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