After a long day at the cube farm, are your eyes tired, itchy, and red? Most of us work while staring at a computer screen for hours on end, and we could also be victims of a very real problem: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). The good news is there are simple ways you can combat CVS, and it doesn’t mean unplugging (completely).
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The name may seem ridiculous, but CVS is very simply vision problems caused by looking at a computer screen. You might have it if you experience eye strain or pain after looking at your monitor, or even a tablet or portable video game screen, for periods of time. When you’re looking at a screen, your eyes are making subtle movements to change their focus while you read a spreadsheet, check a report, or if you shift your vision from, say, written notes on your desk, back up to the warm, glowing monitor.
Sound familiar? It should. Some number between 64 percent to as many as 90 percent of people who work at a computer screen have at least some vision trouble. And CVS is even more common with those of us who wear contact lenses or glasses as well. So vision problems lead to CVS and CVS leads to vision problems, might as well give up, right? Wrong. Here are some tips to lessen CVS when you just can’t cut the cord (or smash that monitor in the alley).
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Blink Early, Blink Often
Tears! They’re nature’s tears! No really, we need to blink more often to lubricate the eyes while looking at a monitor. And often, we don’t do that enough. Pair a lack of blinking with often dry office environments, and you’ve got trouble. If you need some help with the tears, try using lubricating drops like artificial tears or saline on a regular basis. To combat the dry atmosphere, see if your office can change your cube from the one directly under the air conditioning vent, or if you can install a small desktop humidifier (this one is powered by USB and is shaped like a coffee cup!).
Adjust Your Setup
If you’re working off of a hard copy, try moving it up toward the “business area” of your desk near the monitor. Try one that clips on to your monitor, or a small easel style. Get creative! This is your vision we’re talking about here! You also should check your desk to see that it’s as efficient as possible. Move the keyboard in front of your monitor, not off to the side, so you’re not looking at the screen slantwise. Make sure your seat is the right height for your monitor face, too. Here are a few tips from OSHA and CNet on a good ergonomic desk setup. Your office might also have an ergonomic desk consultant available to check your station. Can’t adjust your seat? Try using something to raise your monitor up. Tip: Reams of office paper make great, sturdy blocks.
Clear the Air, er, Screen
When was the last time you cleaned off that monitor screen? Yep, thought so. Make sure your screen is free of dust that might actually make it harder to focus. Once that’s done, try getting rid of the glare with an anti-glare filter that best fits your monitor size. While we’re inspecting your hardware, is it too bright in here? Make sure the lighting isn’t too harsh (or too dim) over your monitor. If you cup your eyes to make fake binoculars around your face, does it feel better when you look at the screen? If so, try some adjustments in your lighting setup to see what works best for you.
Get Away From it All
When in doubt, leave the screen behind. Try to take breaks every 15 or 20 minutes. This doesn’t mean you walk around looking at your phone screen. Go screenless! Try a walk or go talk to a colleague. Grab a cup of coffee or a piece of fruit. Choose anything that doesn’t involve any kind of screen for a minute or two. Breaks don’t have to be long, but they should still happen regularly. You’ll feel better from your eyes on down.
If you still have trouble after trying some of these tips, seek the help from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
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