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  • Writer's pictureDr. Hockstra

Seeing Clearly: Tackling Eye Strain with Effective Strategies

As if spending too much time on screens wasn’t already an issue, the Coronavirus perpetuated the problem by increasing screen time in both adults and children. Remote work and leisure time spent on screens is the new norm, meaning more people are feeling the effects of eye strain, known as ‘CVS’ or ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’.

The average American worker spends at least 7 hours a day on a computer. The CDC reports that teenagers are spending an average of 7.5 hours a day on their devices, while children under the age of ten are spending a whopping 3-5 hours a day on digital screens. It’s no wonder eye strain is becoming an issue among people of all ages!

Symptoms of eye strain might include: shoulder pain, neck pain, neck stiffness, headache, backache, blurred vision, double vision, slowness of focus change, ache in or around the eyes, tired eyes, sore eyes, burning, dryness, redness, gritty sensation, tearing and irritation.

The good news is there are many things you can do to avoid struggling with the effects of CVS. Try incorporating some of Dr. Hockstra’s tips below to keep your eyes healthy and pain free!

1. Correct your posture 

Sit and stand with correct posture, shoulders back and down to optimise the biomechanics of the neck. Invest in an ergonomic work station to ensure your neck, back and eyes aren’t in a compromising position that will create pains and problems for you in the future. It is best to keep your devices an arms length (or twenty-five inches) away from your eyes.

2. Block glares & reflections on your computer

Place your monitor so the brightest light source is off to the side and not directly behind you. Close shades or curtains. Although closing the shades or curtains may not appeal to those who prefer a view, blocking out the natural light source will reduce glare on the screen.

3. Install a blue-light filter

There are a number of downloads such as f.lux  that make the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. This will not only help with eye strain, but will also increase your quality of sleep.

4. Increase font size on your devices

This can reduce the need to squint or strain your eyes to read small text, or hold your cell phone too close to your eyes.

5. Practice the 20-20-20 rule 

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Since it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working, consider downloading a timer on your devices, such as the Lookaway app, to ensure this becomes part of your daily routine.

6. More physical - Less digital

Look for ways that you can take a low-tech route. Write out your brainstorming thoughts on paper. Sketch a project plan on a white board. Read a non-digital book. Go outside on a run. Anytime you can choose a physical option over a digital one, do it. Stepping away from the computer not only offers you a screen break, but it helps you be more creative.

7. See your optometrist

While implementing all of these strategies should help you avoid eye strain, it is important to schedule a yearly visit with your eye doctor. Making sure your prescription is correct and addressing concerns will help you maintain eye health which is so important to achieve a good quality of life.

While we often don’t begin to practice good vision habits until an issue arises, don’t wait! Take all of Dr. Hockstra’s advice and proactively practice each of his helpful tips to ensure you not only avoid eye strain, but also live your life to the fullest!

Contact us today to make an appointment if you are having issues with neck or shoulder tension and pain!

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