Irritated, dry eyes? Your computer may be the culprit!

Health Advisor
Ask Felicity

17 December 2015

The digital world and your eyes

For some, dry eyes are almost a daily occurrence due to how much time we spend looking at computer screens.

In a digital world, it is easy to forget that you are inflicting damage on your vision, but, the good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to keep your eyes protected whilst looking at computer screens.

Staring at a computer screen, whether that is in your place of work, at home whilst watching T.V., or in today’s mobile world, when constantly checking smartphones and tablets, can all damage the eyes, causing dryness and pain.

Eye Information

The cornea is the transparent layer on the front of the eye that allows light to be transmitted to the back of the eye.

The cornea must be healthy and transparent for vision to remain clear. In order that it is kept transparent, the cornea receives no blood supply. Instead of receiving oxygen from the blood, oxygen is dissolved in tears which then diffuses into the cornea. A lack of tears will therefore damage the eye itself and the power of vision.

Straining your eyes at a computer screen can dry out the eyes. This results in insufficient oxygen in the eye leading to eye pain and discomfort.

Mary Meeker, a respected Kleiner Perkins Internet analyst, shows the breakdown of time spent on devices across the globe. graph 2

These findings show that, on average, British people spend 411 minutes every day on one of their devices. This translates to roughly 7 hours each day staring at a screen of some form.

This is very unhealthy for your eyes and can lead to computer vision syndrome.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) refers to the pain and strain in the eye due to damage from a computer screen.

Research shows that computer eye problems are common. Somewhere between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen experience eye trouble.

What parents need to know: Adults who work with computers are not the only ones who can develop CVS. Children who regularly use computers, phones and tablets can also cause eye damage.

A 2015 study found that children are spending, on average, 17 hours a week in front of a screen – that is almost double the 8.8 weekly hours spent playing outside.

A 2015 study found that children are spending, on average, 17 hours a week in front of a screen – that is almost double the 8.8 weekly hours spent playing outside.

Those conducting the study surveyed 1,000 British mothers of children aged 2 to 12 and asked if they ever use technology to keep the kids occupied while they get on with other activities. 85% of those asked said yes.

Five facts about eyes

  1. Some people are born with two differently coloured eyes. This condition is called Heterochromia.
  2. Even if no one in the past few generations of your family has had blue or green eyes, these recessive traits can still appear in later generations.
  3. Each of your eyes has a small blind spot in the back of the retina where the optic nerve attaches. You don’t notice the gap in your vision because your eyes work together to fill in each other’s blind spot.
  4. Out of all the muscles in your body, the muscles that control your eyes are the most active.
  5. 80% of vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable.

Computer comfort tips

Find the best way to work at your computer without straining your eyes.

Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help to reduce eye strain and fatigue.

Brightness – To help relieve the strain on your eye, change the brightness of your screen. The brightness of the screen is correct if it matches the brightness of your surroundings. This helps to reduce the strain on your eye.

Text size and contrast- Increasing the size and style of your font will help to make it easier for your eyes.

Tip: Blink continuously throughout the day! Blinking is so important when working at a computer as it moistens the eyes, preventing dryness and irritation.

It has been found that we generally blink less when working at a computer screen, but even more so whilst looking at smartphone screens.

Minimize glare- You can attach an anti-glare screen protector to your computer, laptop and even smartphone screens to help reduce eye strain.

Upgrade your display- Older monitors are more likely to cause CVS. Upgrade your display to an LCD monitor which is similar to the screens used for laptops, as these types of screen are easier on the eyes.

Minimise your time on your phone- I am very guilty of this, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who spends too much time on their phone or tablet. For prolonged computer use, the ideal size for a screen is at least 19 inches. Try cutting down on the time you spend looking at small screens to help ease the strain on your eye.

Rest your eyes- It is important to take frequent breaks when working at the computer. In order to reduce your risk of CVS along with neck, back and shoulder pain it is essential to take a break every twenty minutes.

Exercise your eyes- Take a little time to exercise your eyes. Every 20 minutes or so look away from your computer to a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. This is known as the “20-20-20 rule” and has been found to be useful for relaxing the eyes and reducing fatigue.

Natural help to ease dry eyes

Euphrasia, also known as Eyebright, is a herb traditionally used for problems with the mucous membranes in the eye. Its combination of anti-inflammatory and astringent properties makes it useful in treating acute or chronic inflammations of the eye.

Alternatively, you can try A.Vogel Eyebright which is taken internally to help with itchy or inflamed eyes.

Finally, to soothe dry eyes, you may wish to try A.Vogel Eye Drops, perfect for eyes, that have spent all day staring into the abyss of a computer screen. These drops provide an instant soothing and moisturing effect.

Exam time

In order to make sure your eyes are fit and healthy, one of the best things you could do is get an eye examination. This way, a professional optician will be able to diagnose your eye problems and ensure that there are no underlying conditions.

How do you cope with dry eyes? Let us know in the comment section below.

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