Regardless of occupation, we all spend an inordinate amount of time staring at computer, laptop or smartphone screens. The result is often eye strain known clinically as computer vision syndrome (CVS). Researchers suggest that between 50% and 90% of individuals who work with monitors for more than two hours a day suffer some form of symptom.
Working in front of a computer monitor stresses the eye muscles because our eyes move across the screen in the same way over and over again. Regardless of whether your eyes are jumping between screens or moving between the screen and a document on your desk, your eye muscles become fatigued. The need of the eyes to constantly shift focus and direction plus the monitor’s flickering, contrast, and glare just adds to the stress on the eye that creates eye strain.
Eye stress is also affected by age. As individuals move past 40, there is a noticeable degradation in the ability to focus on close objects. This change (called presbyopia) is a normal aging process that can usually be compensated for with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. If you do not correct presbyopia, you will be bothered by headaches and eye strain. Constant use of monitors without appropriate compensations increases problems with colour perception, blurred vision, double vision, dryness, red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, neck or back pain.
Experts indicate the following processes are helpful for reducing CVS:
Computer screens and other digital devices emit significant amounts of blue light and people are spending more and more hours looking at them. The high energy blue-light waves scatter more in the eye and [the eye] is not as easily focused. This scatter creates “visual noise” that reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain.
The solution is to reduce the blue light emitting from the screen by reducing the brightness.
At the moment, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that constantly staring at monitors has any long-term impact on vision. However, from a productivity standpoint, eye strain and its accompanying maladies affect daily performance. To improve performance, owner-managers should review their computer location, office lighting and the other factors noted above to create a more comfortable and effective work environment. In addition, staff should be encouraged to have annual eye examinations and create work schedules that include breaks to reduce time staring at the computer.