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March is Save Your Vision Month, and there is no bigger culprit for harming our vision than screens. Between work, school and home, the average American spends nearly 11 hours a day​looking at screens, and prolonged staring at screens can cause a variety of eye health concerns. Here, the eye health experts at Levin Eyecare discuss the issues caused by excessive screen exposure and offer tips on how to minimize these concerns.

What are the Risks of Prolonged Staring at Screens?

There is no officially recommended amount of time people should spend looking at screens during the day, and it is not yet certain exactly how much time spent staring at screens can cause eye health concerns. We do know, however, that those who spend two or more hours of interrupted time staring at screens are at a greater risk of experiencing issues. The term “computer vision syndrome,” also known as “digital eye strain,” encompasses a variety of symptoms frequent screen users may experience. These include:

● eyestrain,

● headaches,

● blurred vision,

● dry eyes and

● neck and shoulder pain from prolonged squinting or straining.

You should speak to an optometrist or optician, such as the professionals at Levin Eyecare, if these symptoms are persistent or become worse over time.

What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?

It is not necessarily the screen itself that causes computer vision syndrome, although it may certainly play a role in the condition. Other factors that may contribute to or cause computer vision syndrome include:

● poor lighting,

● glare,

● blue light emitted by some screens,

● improper viewing distances,

● poor sitting posture or

● uncorrected vision problems.

The human eye must work harder to read text and identify images on a digital screen versus the printed page. This is because text and images on screens are often less sharply defined, have less contrast and may be obscured by glare or reflections.

How Can You Limit Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

There are several best practices anyone can implement when using screens for a prolonged period of time. The location and position of your screen is one of the best ways to help prevent the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Your screen should be approximately 15 to 30 inches away from your eyes, and four to five inches below eye level, so that you are viewing the screen from a slight downward angle. Take a 20 second break from your screen every 20 minutes, making sure to focus on an object at least 20 feet away. This will allow your eyes to recalibrate and will relieve eye fatigue.

Poor lighting and glare are also major contributors to computer vision syndrome that are easy to correct. Orient your screen so that it is not impacted by harsh, uneven overhead light or sunlight. You may also want to consider purchasing an anti-glare screen filter, which reduces the amount of light the screen reflects.

You can also adjust your screen settings to help reduce eye strain and discomfort. The brightness of your screen should match the brightness of your surrounding workstation. The color temperature of your display should be set to appear warmer. The blue light emitted by screens is associated with greater levels of eye strain and fatigue, so adjusting the settings to allow for a more red or orange-hued light will help prevent discomfort.

Book an Appointment with an Eye Health Expert at Levin Eyecare Today!

It is important to remember that computer vision syndrome is often caused or exacerbated by other underlying eye conditions. If you are experiencing the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, be sure to speak with an eye health professional, who can help diagnose your condition and find solutions. The Maryland opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists at any one of Levin Eyecare’s many locations looks forward to seeing you in their office soon! Find a location near you​today.