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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.


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).