Now that majority of universities and colleges have transitioned to online classes to adapt to the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, students will be once again stuck in front of their computer screens for extended periods of time. Since we’re already constantly glued to our screens, we might as well do ourselves a favor and look up health tips for computer users.
In a global survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value among 15,000 Gen Z participants, an astounding 74 percent spend their time online. Forty-five percent said they use a laptop computer while 30 percent use a desktop computer. Bottom line is, a considerable portion of Gen Z are perpetually exposed to digital screens.
Joining online conference calls for classes, reading up on modules, and the occasional browsing through memes may seem harmless, but it’s probably because we don’t immediately notice their negative consequences on our health. You may not know it, but you might already be suffering from something called a computer vision syndrome (CVS).
What is computer vision syndrome?
Also called digital eye strain, CVS is a cluster of eye and vision complications related to the use of computers. Some reported symptoms include eye strain, irritation, redness, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and blurred and/or double vision. Some studies about CVS report that individuals usually experience these symptoms only momentarily and would lessen or disappear after computer use. Others report that symptoms continue to persist even after screen use.
What are the factors that lead to experiencing computer vision syndrome?
While constant exposure to our digital screens plays a huge part in developing CVS, it isn’t the only culprit for it. Studies have shown that other factors like those in our immediate environment also cause digital eye strain, including ergonomic aspects like our viewing distance from the screen, brightness of the environment, the level of our display screens, improper posture, and even the amount of times we take a break from being on our computers.
How do I prevent myself from developing computer vision syndrome?
Because the only way for schools to continue and catch up with the semester is to migrate their teaching methods online, students would find it more difficult to reduce their screen time. The closest thing they can do is to observe helpful health tips that would lessen their risk for CVS.
While eye strain is mainly a vision problem, the way we sit significantly factors in our predisposition to developing eye strain. First off, avoid being on your laptops when you're in bed! Opt for a table setup when you're working instead.
The University of Michigan's Health Service suggests that the best seating posture can be achieved with a chair with a minor arch that will hold up your back in an "upright and relaxed position." Keeping your feet flat and your legs parallel to the ground will also help you maintain the proper seating posture.
Proper viewing distance
The University of Michigan's Health Service also suggests that the proper viewing distance between you and the screen is about 18 inches (or an arm's length) from your eyes. The screen should also be positioned at eye level to prevent neck strain. If you can't adjust the height of your chair, place your monitors or laptops on any old textbooks or other stable materials that could safely elevate it.
Reducing the glare on the screen
When our monitors are tilted, any light source above us might reflect and create a glare on our screens, making it harder to see objects onscreen and therefore lead to eye strain. To prevent this, try tilting your monitor so that it's perpendicular to, or at least tilted 10 to 20 degrees from, your line of sight.
Taking regular breaks
Studies suggest that taking regular breaks and spending some time away from your screens are an effective management strategy for avoiding eye strain. But more than taking breaks, these studies propose that employing the 20/20/20 strategy will have a more significant positive effect. The 20/20/20 rule means you take a break every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on objects at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The strategy aims to give your eyes some much-needed down time to readjust your focus and prevent eye strain.
Aside from the 20/20/20 rule, the mere habit of blinking helps keep your eyes more moist and will therefore prevent your eyes from getting dry.
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