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Computer Vision Syndrome

This post is for those of you who are software professions. Sitting in front of the computer and working for long hours without blinking the eyes properly. While looking at the computer screen, eyes have the tendency to stare at the screen.

Here the eyes have to face with two problems-
  • Your eyes are wide open.
  • Your eyes blink rate is not good enough.
As a result of this, eyes get dry, frequent headaches develop, irritable mood, insomnia, loss of appetite or over-binge eating, lack of concentration, emotionless face, neck and back pains might develop. This is collectively given a name by the medical establishment- Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain. These days this is more frequent not just because of computers but also because of the smart phones everyone is addicted to. Did you notice how in a movie theater, people start looking into their tiny cellphones as soon as there is a break in the movie?

Who can get this syndrome? Well conservative definition says that any person who sits or works in front of a computer or a digital screen continuously for 2 or more hours. I guess that includes most of the young people these days, not just the IT professionals.

When you look at something which is above the level of your eyes, The eyes have to look up and the palpebral aperture (space between the two eyelids) gets wide open - exposing the eye to air, leading to dry eye. As estimated by Ophthalmologists, when you look down, your palpebral aperture (meaning the area of the open eye between your eyelids) is one square cm. When you look straight, the approximate area of the palpebral aperture is 2 cm squared and when you look above, the area increases to 3 cm square. That means, more air exposure and drier eyes.

While reading books or working on computers, it is suggested to keep the book or the computer below the level of your eyes, so that you have to look down. This way, the upper eye lid covers larger part of the eye ball and the palpebral aperture decreases in area. Eye remains moist, warm and protected.

The next problem is with low blink rate. When you are reading or working on a computer, automatically you blink less- because your eyes are working/focusing. Not just seeing. Its the brain looking through your eyes, not just eyes working there. In that state of focus, you blink less. So you have to make an habit of blinking often. It is estimated that an average IT software professional blinks 6 to 7 times a minute. You have to make an habit of blinking 10 to 12 times a minute. Its hard to keep count of your blinking. The point to take here is- blink more frequently.

When the eye gets dry, it is not cleaned properly. Lubrication is lost. Local burning and uneasiness will become chronic sometimes will never really go away. The dry eye keeps coming back in some people for life. More sinister is the dust, pollutants, chemicals and microbes that get lodged in our eyes when we go out in the city. When eyes' natural cleaning mechanism is lost, the body will have to depend on immune responses to keep the eye clean. The immune system is strained. Frequent eye infections become common. The effects are not restricted to eye alone. Its the whole body that gets affected when there is some problem in one part of the body. Human body is not a machine. But the thing here is, the effects are not quite visible directly in other parts of the body. In general, the body gets weak over the period and all kinds of chronic diseases will ensure.

Another suggestion from Ophthalmologists to the software professionals is closing your eyes for a moment every now and then- lets say once in every 15 or 20 mins, just close your eyes for half a minute or so. Don't forget to roll the eye balls inside your eyes when you are closing them. Then move around your room and get back to work again.

Make sure the the lighting is proper. Always have your lights on when you are working on a laptop. Don't have the overhead light too bright or too dull. Try to avoid glare. Keep the laptop in such a position that it does not throw out all of its light into your eyes ( a little bit below the level of eyes is ideal). When you have to work in a dark room, reduce the brightness of the screen so that the eye doesn't strain much.

Moreover, the distance between the eyes and the computer must be optimal- around 20 to 30 inches. Remember that these values are not one size fits all. Its an approximate estimate. Judge your eye comfort by yourself. But make sure that you are not extremely above or below these suggested figures. Now if you develop a dry eye, consult a health care professional and be sure to use artificial tears that do not have preservatives.

The Orthopedic problems and other health issues related to software professionals will be discussed in later posts.


Unknown said…
Well said.. Very much informative.

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