Risking your vision on computers

Published: 17th September 2012 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2012 08:55 AM   |  A+A-


Archana, a software engineer with a multinational company left her job after five years. Her work involved long hours on the computers, making project reports that stretched to days and weeks without a break. Suffering from frequent headaches and blurred vision, she decided to call it a day and has now switched over to a ‘healthier’ job that does not involve looking at the screen continuously.

This is not an isolated case as many Archanas in the IT city have fallen prey to such symptoms and decided to go for a changeover.  With increasing use of computers and other electronic gadgets, there has been a sea change in the lifestyles of people but consequently, a cascading effect has been seen on the health of its users too. Lately, the overuse of computers, a common phenomenon today has caused the straining of eyes leading to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).  Medical experts say the prolonged use of computers without rest and protection reduces blinking of eyes and leads to less tear circulation thereby, causing  redness in the eyes.

The most vulnerable group of people who are likely to be affected by this problem are software engineers, call centre workers, design engineers and HR professionals. Recent medical studies have shown that people who work on computers/VDUs for more than three hours a day are vulnerable to the problem. Scientific studies also indicate that the CVS is prevalent in 50 to 75 per cent  of the computer/VDU users.  Although, there is no data available on people quitting their jobs due to CVS, there have been reported cases of decline in productivity.

Noted medical expert, chief optometrist, Eyewear Division, Titan Industries, Sujay Suresh Dangi says, “In most cases, symptoms of CVS occur because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform them. Persons who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer every day are at a greater risk. The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are : eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry or irritated eyes,  photophobia and double vision and after images.”

Proper rest to the eye and its muscles is usually recommended to relieve the associated eye strain. People who wear spectacles or contact lens may find that it is not suitable for the specific viewing distances of their computer screen.

Some people tilt their heads at odd angles because their glasses aren't designed for looking at a computer. Or they bend toward the screen in order to see it clearly.

The result is such postures causes muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder, wrists or back.   Medical experts say either way, one has to wear glasses for working on computers.  But if a person is already wearing glasses or contact lenses for other related vision problems like short or long sight, they too have to get it corrected as the present glasses may not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer.  The normal eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work.

Lenses prescribed to meet the 'unique visual demands' of computer viewing may be needed.  Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort, emphasises Dangi.

Severe CVS problems may need medical treatment but otherwise corrective and precautionary measures can be taken by doing regular eye exercises and yoga.

Last but not the least, if one has to take precautions, it is proper body positioning for viewing  the computer. 

Apart from this, one should adopt a few measures that  includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.

Nowadays, most eye care practitioners are aware of CVS but some doctors especially from smaller towns may not be aware of CVS as such a rampant and medically accepted problem.  Hence, there is a need for further education about computer vision syndrome, concludes Dangi.


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