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By Michelle Roach, Writer at Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired

During a normal work day in front of the computer, I regularly notice that my eyes feel tired and dry, and the screen may even be blurring. Do these feelings sound familiar?

The National Eye Institute declares May “Healthy Vision Month.” Keeping your eyes healthy and productive at work and at home is extremely important. According to the American Optometric Association, Computer Vision Syndrome is defined as “the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work experienced during computer use.” Because many of us depend on the computer daily, it is our responsibility to create the healthiest environment for our eyes during screen time. The Council encourages everyone to celebrate Healthy Vision Month by trying the following tips to help prevent Computer Vision Syndrome.

Woman asleep on laptopTip 1: Talk to your eye doctor about your computer use. The lenses you wear everyday may not be the best lenses to wear while using the computer. The next time you have a comprehensive eye exam, be sure to ask your eye care professional about what options may be the best fit for working at the computer.

Tip 2: Create a comfortable work station. Our work usually happens at a desk where all of our tools to help us complete our work are situated around us. The computer you use should be calibrated to help you be the most productive. Make sure the screen resolution and contrast are set to levels that make images and text crisp, clear, and easy to read. Position the computer straight ahead of where you sit and think about your posture when you work.  Is your head straight and not flexed forward?  Is the display somewhat below eye level?  Are your wrists and hands comfortably extended from the elbow when using a keyboard? Is there glare from the display that might be reduced by repositioning the display in relation to windows or overhead light sources?  Is the display free of dust or fingerprints that could reduce clarity?

Tip 3: Give your eyes a break. Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome like eye strain, blurred vision, and dry eye can be provoked by focusing on your computer screen for too long. Jean Kalscheur, Director of Education and Vision Services at the Council, recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, move your focus away from the computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Find things to do during these breaks like making phone calls, getting something off the printer, or filling up your water bottle. Your eyes will appreciate this well deserved break.

Though sometimes getting off the computer isn’t an option, maximizing visual comfort while using the computer can be achieved. The next time you notice symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, remember these three tips and adjust your work patterns to ensure comfort and productivity. If you or someone you know has low vision or blindness and you’d like to learn more about adaptive products that could help maximize your vision, call the Council at 1-800-783-5213. Our vision rehabilitation teachers are trained in creating optimal work environments for those who are blind or visually impaired.