Dieudonne Niyompano, a software test engineer recalls spending a minimum of ten hours a day at his computer while writing his dissertation a few years ago.
His eyes could once in a while tear up though he ignored the sign thinking that he was just tired from the hard work. The eyes however turned out to always be irritated something that prompted him to go see an optician, who recommended him to start wearing eye glasses that would protect his eyes from further damage.
Today it’s not as rare as it was before to meet someone wearing eyeglasses. This is because of the massive use of computers and smart phones today.
Because of the trending digital realm, many people, both young and old find themselves either glued to their computers or smart phones. This however, has effects as experts have observed.
Computer vision syndrome is one of the ailments one can suffer from excessive use of computers.
Also referred to as digital eye strain, medics define computer vision syndrome as a condition that displays eye and vision-related problems. This, they say result s from prolonged computer or and cell phone use.
Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.
Dr Francis Mutangana, a senior optician at Oshen King Faisal hospital says they have been receiving a number of patients across all professionals with this issue and that most patients seem to be bankers and IT professionals.
“For now, it is hard to tell whether this eye condition can turn out to be a bigger problem as it is still new but research is ongoing to find out if there might be any relations to other eye illnesses,” the optician says.
Mutangana says that the major cause of computer vision syndrome is the reflection of light into one’s eyes by the computer screen and other digital devices.
He however notes that light coming from other sources such as the sun and electric bulbs, can also affect the eyes.
Over staying at the computer screen without taking a break stresses one’s eyes because viewing a computer or another digital screen is different from reading printed text, Mutangana explains.
“Often the letters on the computer or handheld devices are not precise or sharply defined. The level of contrast of the letters is hence reduced and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult,” he adds.
Computer vision syndrome is one of the ailments caused by excessive use of computers.
Signs to watch out for
Mutangana says signs of computer vision syndrome are not specific because people can react differently; also some eye diseases like mild allergic conjunctivitis share the same signs with this condition.
He says the common indictors of computer vision syndrome are blurred vision, irritating eyes, headache among other factors.
Information from the American Optometric website shows that the most common symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome are eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain.
These symptoms may be caused by poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems or a combination of these factors.
Their research goes on to show that the extent to which individuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.
Uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and aging changes of the eyes, such as presbyopia, can all contribute to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen device.
Mutagana says that people need to work out if they are to keep safe from this condition.
He also advises people to always see the optician for eye check-ups because other eye diseases like mild allergic conjunctivitis subscribe to the same signs.
“People have to watch out on the reflection light coming from the digital device screen especially desktops at their work place. People who like to sit next to the window have to make sure that the curtains are drawn,” the optician says.
“Take frequent breaks for about two or three seconds every thirty minutes of gazing at the screen. Also, taking a lot of water will help in the manufacturing of enough tears to lubricant the eyes thus preventing drying of the eyes,” Mutagana advises.