As much as I like to spend time outdoors, unfortunately I end up spending a large amount of time sitting in front of a computer monitor as I do research. As a result, I'm always alert for anything that will help reduce the ill effects of computer use. Up until now, most of the research was on things like carpal tunnel syndrome—but now we’re seeing a condition that wouldn’t have been even thought of 40 years ago: computer vision syndrome.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) include eyestrain, headaches, redness, double vision, and blurred vision (loss of visual acuity). Some users also begin to lose contrast sensitivity, meaning that it becomes harder to distinguish figures, including letters, against a background. The good news is that these changes don’t appear to be permanent, but they can be uncomfortable and interfere with your ability to perform other functions that require accurate vision.
What can you do to counteract computer vision syndrome?
- Take lutein. Research has shown that taking lutein helps to increase visual acuity, and improve contrast sensitivity. You want to look for a product with 6–12 mg of lutein. Eggs (with the yolk), spinach, and greens such as kale and collards are also high in lutein; a one-cup serving of cooked spinach contains more than 13 mg.
- Take astaxanthin. Several studies suggest astaxanthin helps reduce symptoms of eye strain and eye fatigue caused by spending time in front of a computer. You want to take 6 mg of astaxanthin daily, which is the research dose.
- Move your computer monitor. A study showed that users who were able to look downward at their monitor at an angle of 14 degrees or more were significantly less likely to experience computer vision syndrome.
- Take frequent rest breaks from the computer to look at objects of various distances, to help maintain what's known as visual accommodation—the ability to adjust focus between near and distant objects. Accommodation begins to decline with age anyway—it's the classic sign of the "aging eye"—so it's important to work to maintain whatever capacity you can.
Now, it's your turn: Do you have computer vision syndrome? Have you found a solution that works?