Visual Hygiene

Having good visual hygiene is important to maintaining clear and comfortable vision.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) – The American Optometric Association defines CVS as a group of eye and vision related problems that result from prolonged computer use. Studies indicate that 50 to 90% of computer users suffer from symptoms of this syndrome. The most common symptoms include eyestrain, dry eye, eye irritation, headaches, blurred vision and double vision.

The following tips are intended to reduce stress on our visual system during common day-to-day activities such as reading and computer use.

  1. Good Lighting:
    1. Illumination should be positioned so as to avoid glare from your reading material.
    2. Illumination on your task should be at least 3x the illumination of its background to provide adequate contrast.
    3. A light positioned behind and over the material works well for reading.
    4. Natural light is always better for the eyes than artificial light. If reading for prolonged periods of time, try to avoid fluorescent lighting. Consider investing in a natural daylight light bulb for these tasks such as an OTT Lite bulb (best for daytime reading).
  2. Good Posture:
    1. Sit upright while reading or watching television. Avoid lying on back, side or stomach so both eyes are aligned and at an equal distance from what is being seen.
    2. While watching television make sure to sit at least 6 feet away, sitting too close can be causing you unnecessary eye fatigue.
    3. Position reading material raised at a 20 degree angle from your work station.
    4. The most appropriate distance to hold reading material is the distance from your fist held at your eye to your elbow.
    5. When working on the computer, position your seat (or screen) so you are looking down at the top of your screen at about a 15 degree angle.
  3. Taking breaks:
    1. It is suggested that for every 20 minutes of near/intermediate tasks you look 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule.
    2. Studies show that people tend to blink about half as much as normal when they are staring at a computer screen. To compensate for this reduced blinking time take a break and instill an artificial tear in the eyes as your symptoms indicate. If you’d like to be proactive you may also choose to instill the artificial tear before starting your computer work!

If you are still noticing issues and spend more than 4-5 hours per day reading/at a computer station then you should consider purchasing an appropriately prescribed pair of glasses designed specifically for that task (ask our optician for more information).

Utilize these tips to decrease the impact of long term visual stress and improve the quality and enjoyment of your life.