Dr. Oludiya Olamitan
Janet Jumia, not real name, worked through the weekend on the computer for her corporation’s major presentation to the new client the service department spent the last six months prospecting for a brief. Management verdict was unanimous, it was a terrific package better presented by the director herself, who had put in nine hours through Sunday night to Monday morning to meet the deadline, but Blessing could not stand the strain further. Suddenly, she felt fatigue, headache, blurred vision, neck pain, dry eyes and was feeling too dizzy to stand up. As luck would have it, her CEO shifted his trip out of station to the afternoon mainly to attend the session with the new client and had to handle the presentation.
She went straight from the venue to the clinic, fearing the worst, only for her doctor to say her uneasiness with the severe frontal headache, blurred vision, neck pain, the dizziness that made her sit all through the presentation and the reddish eyes she noticed while looking at her mirror were all symptoms of a minor occupational hazard, no drugs required, all she got was the advice to take a rest and do some eye exercises. Janet suffered from Computer Vision Syndrome, CVS, a temporary condition that resulted from focusing her eyes long on the computer for an uninterrupted period of time. Studies by the global body of occupational safety and health therapists showed about 90 per cent of the people who spend three hours or more daily on the computer, the lot of most business executives, suffer from CVS. With so many of us using computers at work, eye strain has become a major job-related complaint that occurs in 50% to 90% of workers using the computers. CVS problems at work includes physical fatigue, workers’ suffer decreased productivity and are prone to errors. Also, people suffer minor irritations of the eyes twitching and red eyes.
Major symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, redness in the eyes, fatigue, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, dizziness and difficulty refocusing the eyes. These symptoms can be further worsened by improper lighting conditions such as very bright light in the room or air moving past the eyes with overhead vents or direct air from a fan. Dry eye is a major sign of CVS and proper rest to the eye and its muscles relieves eye strain usually experienced during CVS.
Occupational safety and health therapists say CVS is the second computer related problem and have been campaigning for people to rest the eyes while working on computers. The experts say it is needful to consciously blink the eyes every now and then to replenish the tear film. This can be done by looking away from the computers and staring out of the window to a distant object or to the sky so the eye muscles can rest. Catch phrase the therapists use to spread the message is the 20-20-20 Rule which says for every 20minutes spent on the computer, the eyes should be focused away from the computer on an object 20 feet, six meters, away for 20 seconds to relieve the eyes from the strain of the CVS. Another way optometrist and ophthalmologist advice to manage CVS is to close the eyes for at least 20 seconds after every half an hour work on the computer. However, CVS has nothing to do with watching the television for long or getting close to the TV screen. Surprisingly, the experts say the kinds can get as close the TV as they like.
Here are some recommended ways for business executives to manage the CVS:
Get comprehensive eye examinations regularly: Have an eye examination before when you start working on a computer and once a year thereafter.
Use proper lighting: Eye strain is often caused by excessive bright light either from the outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as your office lighting.
Minimize glare: Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright whitewalls a darker colour with matte finish. If you wear glasses, use lenses with anti – reflective, AR, coating to reduces glare and minimize the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.
Upgrade your display: Use computer panels with Liquid Crystal Display, LCD, style monitors like those on laptop computers. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have anti – reflective surface.
Adjust your computer display settings to reduce eye strain and fatigue.
Blink more often: Blinking is very important when working at a computer, blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise. Blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling ¸very slowly¸ this will help rewet your eyes.
Exercise your eyes: Obey the 20-20-20 Rule
Take frequent breaks: To reduce your risk for the CVS, neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day.
Modify your work station: If you must to look back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen, place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor to reduce eye strain.
Consider computer eyewear: For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your eye care professional modify your eye glasses prescription to create customized computer glasses.
Dr. Olamitan is a medical practitioner and can be reached via email@example.com
Published in the Business Eye’s print version, Jul 2015 edition.
Featured image credit: www.gunnars.com