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Computer users may suffer 'visual RSI'

Cliff Saran

Computer users who get headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and difficulty focusing could be suffering from a form of repetitive strain injury of the eyes called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

David Summers an optometrist at Melina Joy Opticians, in Heathfield, Sussex, urged anyone who uses a computer as part of their job to follow health and safety recommendations by taking regular screen breaks.

"Setting a timer for taking regular screen breaks can make a huge difference," he said. "For every 20 minutes you look at the computer screen, look away for 20 seconds."

This helps the eyes focus on more distant objects, which is another symptom of CVS. "People who stare at a computer screen all day often find it difficult to focus on distant objects. Sometimes, they find it hard to read train timetables on the platform."

Blinking regularly, using eye drops and making sure there is no screen glare and the work area is well lit, can all help to reduce problems with eye strain and dry eyes, he said.

Summer said people using reading glasses can now buy lenses that allow them to work more comfortably with a computer terminal. One example, the Nexyma, from German spectacle lens specialist Rodenstock, is a variable reading/intermediate distance lens.

Tips on tackling Computer Vision Syndrome

  • Take regular screen breaks
  • Look away from the computer screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
  • Blink regularly
  • Use eye drops to improve eye comfort
  • Ensure work area is well lit and no glare is coming off the screen




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