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Computer Vision Syndrome

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Author : Dr Deepak Garg


Do your eyes burn and water just as you are putting those finishing touches to a long report? Does the texting marathon with your bestie leave your eyes stinging for hours? Digital Screens are often cast in starring roles as the villians in our life! It is the way we use the screen and not the screen itself that  is responsible for the struggles we have with our eyes after using a computer or mobile phone for a longer period of time.

The physical harm due to sitting still and lack of other activities, the damage due to wrong posture is a whole different set of discussions. So here I’ll imit it to eye-related information.

How then do we protect our precious eyes? It’s no fun struggling to be productive at the end of a long day while your eyes feel like they’ve been set on fire!


These guidelines are valid for all kinds of screens and all kinds of users as well. Lets break this down then:

  1. Remind yourself every 20 minutes “Hey, I’m a human being with human eyes”. Our eye musces strain to focus on fine objects beyond 20 continuous minutes. Allow your focus to relax away from the screen, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This is the 20-20-20 rule. Get a cute kitchen timer, set an alarm on your phone or set pop-ups on your screen as reminders.  
  2. We don’t blink enough when we concentrate on a target. This is a remnant of our animal instincts, but since we are neither hunter nor prey. This automatic reduction in blinking rate works against us when we look at a screen. So have a reminder somewhere in your field of vision- I have a winking smiley face on the edge of my PC screen! 
  3. Make sure the top of your screen is at eye level. Looking upwards means the eye is open wider, giving tears more surface area from which to evaporate, causing more dryness.
  4. Keep your screen brightness at the same level as the room lighting. A dim screen belongs in a dimly lit room. Many devices now offer an auto or adaptive brightness setting option which you can enable.
  5. Be aware of other light sources in the surrounding, like windows, artificial lighting and check to see if they are creating glare either on your screen or into your eyes. This is easily checked while your screen is not on yet.
  6. Check if any air conditioning or heating vent is towards your face. This accelerates rate of evaporation and its important we change the direction of these vents. 
  7. If you have eye power please wear your glasses to reduce eye strain.

Persistent dryness and irritation, despite all these measures can or show the need for lubricating eye drops. So do visit your local Eye Specialist for a thorough check up!

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