July 22, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Are Your Eyes At Risk?

Dr. Brian Woolf - Woolf and Woolf Optometrists
Dr. Brian Woolf - Woolf and Woolf Optometrists's picture
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August 10, 2017

If You Stare At Screens, The Answer Is Yes

If you’ve noticed lately that your vision is blurring, you’re getting more headaches than you used to, your eyes are dry and your neck hurts, you could be suffering from a 21st-century health problem: computer vision syndrome.

One in three Americans — and nearly three-quarters of all Millennials — reports experiencing symptoms of computer vision syndrome, or CVS, according to a new report from The Vision Council. For people who continuously switch between a computer monitor and mobile screen, or from their mobile screen to something out in the distance, the symptoms can start to feel unbearable.

Technology is evolving faster than our human anatomy. As we explain to our Woolf & Woolf patients, our eyes were designed to use natural light to see far, not close up. From the beginning, our eyes were finely-tuned for activities like hunting and gathering, boating and keeping watch for predators. When we try to focus on something close, our eyes must turn in and strain to focus. For most people, this leads to the rapid onset of symptoms. Making matters worse, by using a close focus to look at screens that are different sizes and resolutions and that emit a manufactured blue light, our eyes are forced to do something they were never designed for. Like you, I’m not willing to give up the screens in my life. So instead, I’ve made some adjustments, and I’d recommend you do the same.

First, get regular checkups with a qualified optometrist. As a result of the screens in our lives, most people now need glasses to see clearly. Anyone who works on a computer for four or more hours a day should be wearing a separate pair of computer glasses with a special prescription to help their eyes adjust. Patients who wear computer glasses typically report that all of their symptoms go away within a week.

In addition to glasses, there are some easy steps you can take to relieve CVS symptoms.

·         Use the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away

·         Position your screen about an arm’s length away, and set the height of your monitor so that you’re gazing down, not looking up

·         Make sure to turn on the blue light filter on your smartphone at night, and try to use the dimmest setting you can handle

The good news is that CVS is reversible, and symptoms will decline as soon as you make adjustments.

Dr. Brian Woolf is a third-generation optometrist and the owner of Woolf & Woolf Optometrists. He is a governor-appointed member of the Maryland Board of Examiners in Optometry. For more information, see www.drwoolf.com.

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