In the past 12 months, many of us have experienced a sharp increase in the amount of time we spend looking at a screen. Where we used to see colleagues face-to-face across a boardroom table, we now congregate around our home computers to discuss work-related projects. A work-from-home situation can sound freeing at first but, spending more and more time at a computer also has its downside. Computer vision syndrome is one of them.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
This common eye problem, one that is becoming increasingly common these days, happens when the eyes strain due to frequent focus on a screen. Yes, our cell phones and tablets count! The mild strain that occurs during work or at the end of the day may seem insignificant at first. However, the persistent strain can lead to various detrimental symptoms over time. When ignored for a prolonged period, computer vision syndrome can degrade vision. The good news is that help is available. You just have to know who to call!
When to Schedule a Visit with Your Ophthalmologist
Computer vision syndrome, which may also be referred to as digital eye strain, can cause mild to severe symptoms. The most common symptom that may occur early in the process is dry, irritated eyes. This happens because, when we look at a screen, we aren’t blinking as often is necessary. The tear film is spread across the eye when we blink so, without that action, the ocular surface becomes extraordinarily dry. More advanced dry eye can feel like there is a piece of dust or some other foreign object in the eye. This symptom can be very distracting. At that time, symptoms like dryness and tired eyes may be brought under control by using lubricating eye drops and taking breaks from the computer to close the eyes for several seconds.
It can be helpful to see an ophthalmologist for computer vision syndrome if blurriness becomes the norm. Blurriness can result from excessive dryness but may also be related to frequently straining the eyes. Black spots called drifters may also develop, indicating a need for prompt care from a specialist.
If you’re like a lot of folks, you may be looking at a screen more often these days. Simply put, our eyes are not designed for our current lifestyle. However, we cannot pick up and change our line of work just because our eyes get cranky from time to time. What we can do is provide the care that the eyes need to stay healthy and functional.