My sister started to rock back and forth as she moved away from her desk. She noticed her eyesight beginning to blur as the room spun around her.

Too much computer time can be hard on the eye; use the 20-20-20 rule. Credit: Artwork by Holly Fischer via Wiki Commons.

         “I was so engrossed to the computer screen because I was taking a test for my business class—that should take about 3 hours—and I was worried that I would run out of time,” said 21-year-old Paula Rodriguez. “After I had finished taking the test, I quickly stood up and lost my balance for about 6 minutes. I honestly did not know what was going on”.

         During her second year of college, Paula had experienced symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) while taking an online course, which requires students to be attentive to computer screens for long periods of time.

         CVS is a temporary condition caused by one’s eyes being focused on a computer display for long, uninterrupted periods of time, says the American Optometric Association (AOA). Thus, CVS can potentially affect all computer users. 

         According to the AOA, symptoms may include blurred vision or eyestrain; dry, itchy, red or burning eyes; and neck or back pain, among others. The AOA lists the causes of these symptoms to be poor lighting glare on the computer screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems, or a combination of these factors.

         According to Dr. Rheda Gerlock, the optometrist at the Vision Care Specialist center in Aurora, CO, “CVS symptoms are more common in people who wear the wrong prescription of glasses, need glasses, but don’t wear them; have eye problems like astigmatism or nearsightedness”.

         Research conducted by AOA shows that 50-90% of computer users experience at least one of the symptoms of CVS, and that about 10 million Americans show symptoms of CVS during eye exams.

         The best thing to do to avoid CVS symptoms is, “every 20 minutes spend 20 seconds looking at an object that is approximately 20 feet away. This is called the ’20-20-20 rule’. Blinking is also way to prevent redness in the eyes because it produces tears that hydrate your eyes,” says Gerlock.

         According to the Mayo Clinic, by doing the 20-20-20 rule you are giving your eye breaks, which helps relax the muscles that control the focus of the eyes. 

        WebMD states that eye glasses help the light entering the eye focus properly on the retina, which is the part of the back of the eye. By not wearing glasses or the proper prescription on glasses, the light isn’t being focused where it should.

       According to WebMD, a computer makes the eye muscles work much harder compared to reading a book, because eyes have to adjust the screen contrast and glare every time the eye focus moves.

         Fortunately, Gerlock explains, “CVS is not a sickness that causes long term harm to the eyes. However, it is important to take care of them since you are only given one pair of eyes in your lifetime”. 

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         Now that see knows more about CVS, Paula has become more attentive of how much time she spends on the computer. When completing homework assignments on the computer, Paula applies the 20-20-20 rule to prevent CVS and has found it “real helpful”. After her experience with CVS, Paula got her first pair of glasses, which so far have helped her steer away from CVS. 

Maria Rodriquez

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