Pre­vent Com­puter Vi­sion Syn­drome

Re­liev­ing eye-strain while at your com­puter.

HWM (Malaysia) - - LEARN - TEXT // JAMES LU

If you spend hours ev­ery day star­ing at a com­puter screen, you may suf­fer from CVS - Com­puter Vi­sion Syn­drome - the med­i­cal term for any symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with pro­longed com­puter use, in­clud­ing: headaches, blurry vi­sion, dry or red eyes, dizzi­ness, or neck pain. While ibupro­fen and other painkillers can tem­po­rar­ily re­lieve eye­strain, it's bet­ter to pre­vent CVS al­to­gether. Here's how.

1. FIND AN OP­TI­MAL MON­I­TOR PO­SI­TION

The best po­si­tion for your mon­i­tor is di­rectly in front of you. A mon­i­tor that re­quires you to turn to the left or right to view can cause neck and shoul­der pain due to the awk­ward pos­ture. Ide­ally, your mon­i­tor should be po­si­tioned di­rectly in front and about 50-70 cm away from your eyes – or about arm's length. Ad­di­tion­ally, the top of your mon­i­tor should be roughly at eye level, so you look down at your dis­play, not up. Note­book users should en­sure that their dis­play isn't too far down, as look­ing down too much can cause neck prob­lems. This can be solved with a note­book stand or even a stack of books to el­e­vate your note­book.

Fi­nally, tilt your mon­i­tor slightly up­wards so that the base is a lit­tle bit closer to you than the top. This re­sults in a more di­rect line of sight and lets you eas­ily view the en­tire screen more clearly. En­sure that you don't tilt your mon­i­tor up too much, or you may ex­pe­ri­ence glare from over­head light­ing.

2. USE F.LUX TO AU­TO­MAT­I­CALLY AD­JUST YOUR MON­I­TOR COLOR

Most com­puter mon­i­tors have a slightly bluish color tem­per­a­ture. While this is suit­able for work­ing un­der bright, day­light con­di­tions, when night falls and am­bi­ent light fades, the ex­treme bright­ness can be­come an ir­ri­tant for your eyes.

If you find your­self work­ing late hours in an of­fice with lots of am­bi­ent light, you'll def­i­nitely want to in­stall f.lux, a free, light­weight pro­gram for Win­dows, Mac and Linux that will au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just the color tem­per­a­ture of your dis­play in line with the cur­rent time of day.

With f.lux in­stalled, dur­ing the day your mon­i­tor will re­main bright and bluish, but as the light fades, it will change to a mel­low, warmer yel­low­ish hue that's eas­ier on the eyes, sim­i­lar to in­door in­can­des­cent light­ing. f.lux also in­cludes a one click op­tion to re­vert back to nat­u­ral col­ors tem­po­rar­ily if, for ex­am­ple, you need to edit a photo. Get f.lux from http://just­get­flux.com.

3. GUN­NAR OPTIKS COM­PUTER GLASSES

Gun­nar Optiks is a US com­pany that spe­cial­izes in glasses that re­duce com­puter-re­lated eye­strain. The tinted lens work by fil­ter­ing out spe­cific parts of the light spec­trum from ar­ti­fi­cial light sources (such as a com­puter mon­i­tor) that cause your eye to work harder, re­sult­ing in bet­ter over­all con­trast sen­si­tiv­ity, and in­creased leg­i­bil­ity.

Each pair of Gun­nar Optiks glasses also has a slight cur­va­ture to the frame and lens shape, al­low­ing the outer edge of the lens to sit closer to your face. Gun­nar says that this ac­tu­ally helps main­tain a more sta­ble cli­mate around your eyes as there's less air cir­cu­la­tion to dry out your eye­balls. While Gun­nar Optiks were pre­vi­ously only avail­able in non-pre­scrip­tion form, the com­pany now of­fers pre­scrip­tion eye­wear rang­ing from +3.00 to -8.00 de­grees. Get your Gun­nar Op­tik's glasses from www.gun­nars.com.

4. THE 20-20-20 RULE

The 20-20-20 rule is a handy trick to re­mem­ber to give your eyes a break. The idea is, ev­ery 20 min­utes, take your eyes off your mon­i­tor, find an ob­ject about 20 feet away (roughly 6 me­ters), and stare at it for 20 sec­onds.

If you have trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing to take a break ev­ery 20 min­utes, you can down­load a pro­gram that will au­to­mate re­minders for you, such as BreakTaker for Win­dows (breaktaker.soft­ware.in­former.com) or De­jal's Time­Out for Mac OSX (www.de­jal.com/time­out).

5. TRAIN YOUR EYES WITH EYE DE­FENDER

One of the prob­lems with ex­tended com­puter use is that we tend to stare at the same part of the screen for hours at a time. Word processors, spread­sheets and web browsers all have the in­for­ma­tion lo­cated in the mid­dle of the screen, and as a re­sult your eye­balls rarely shift any­where else. This has the un­de­sired ef­fect of fo­cus­ing your gaze con­stantly in one place, cramp­ing up your eye mus­cles, which is why they start to ache.

Eye De­fender is a free pro­gram for Win­dows that of­fers a break timer with a Vis­ual Train­ing mode. It can be setup to sug­gest a break on a reg­u­lar in­ter­val (45 min­utes by de­fault – but you can set it as low as ev­ery 2 min­utes). In train­ing mode, Eye De­fender will black out your screen and then dis­play some icons that will ap­pear around your screen and then move around. Your job is to fo­cus on th­ese icons as they ap­pear and fol­low them around with your eyes with­out mov­ing your neck (sim­i­lar to when an op­tometrist tells you to fol­low a light with your eyes). This train­ing forces all of the mus­cles in your eyes to work and stretch, re­duc­ing cramp­ing and fa­tigue. Get Eye De­fender from www.eter­lab.com/eye­de­fender.

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