Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Looking after your eyes (especially computer users!)

Computer vision syndrome.

Sounds made up doesn’t it but it is actually a genuine condition and one that I was suffering less than a few months ago. Luckily for me, I was rescued by a three week break from my computer screen thanks to the honeymoon. At the end of our trip, whilst reading in Dubai by the pool, I realised that I didn't have my glasses on, but could read fine (up close admittedly). 

However I am fully aware that the symptoms could well return just as quick as they came on, so I have vowed to start taking better care of my eyes from now on!

picture from www.epax.com/

So what is computer vision syndrome or CVS (as the cool kids know it as)???

CVS is the name given for eye problems caused by computer use. CVS is not actually one specific eye problem, but rather a term that encompasses a whole range of eye strains and pains.

The most common symptoms are: Eye strain, head aches, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, blurred vision etc. 
Sound familiar?

Probably! Research shows that computer eye problems are so common, that it is estimated that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye trouble.

But luckily there is something you can do to help reduce the issue. Short of quitting your job or becoming a monk, there are a number of exercises that you can do (at your desk) to help reduce the strain. Here are three things that I am trying...

picture from juicing-for-health.com/

Eye rolling
Rolling your eyes is a great way to ‘stretch’ the muscles. We often stretch our neck and shoulders after straining at a computer but few of us rarely consider our eyes! Eye rolling is simple too and won’t look odd to your neighbouring colleagues, as it will go undetected. When I say eye rolling, I don’t mean the kind of eye rolling you do when some idiot tries to board the tube as the doors are closing, proceeding to get stuck.

This is how to eye roll…
Look up, to the left, down and then right. Blink. Repeat this circular, rolling the eyes in the other direction. Do this a few times for a good break.

Look around
One of the main issues of working on a computer is that you restrict your vision to close up objects, neglecting your long sight muscles. Every 20 minutes, take a break from the screen and focus your eyes on a distant item.

Don’t think you will remember this every 20 minutes? Me neither. I would recommend downloading workrave, a clever app that will pop up a reminder on your screen every 20 minutes to take a mini break.

Take a break
Not so much of an exercise, than a must!
When working full time on computers it is essential that every hour you take a 5 or 10 minute break from the screen. My suggestion, take this as a trip to the toilet, to speak to a colleague instead of emailing them or even better, do a tea round! You’ll be giving your eyes a break plus win yourself some brownie points from your colleagues!

Happy eye health! 

X x X


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