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Watch out for computer vision syndrome

People in Oklahoma who use computers at work could benefit from understanding the possible dangers of digital eyestrain, or what the American Optometric Association calls Computer Vision Syndrome. CVS can cause many symptoms that go beyond the eyes.

American workers spend an average of seven hours per day on a computer. Add to that computer time at home plus tablet and cell phone screen time, and that can mean eye strain from looking at digital displays. CVS can cause blurry vision, dry eyes, and it can even contribute to physical pain in the head, neck and shoulders. These symptoms can be exacerbated by using a digital screen in a room that's not properly lit or by glare on the screen.

Many symptoms of CVS are temporary and tend to go away when digital displays are turned off for the day. But lingering symptoms could be a sign of a problem that needs medical treatment. CVS can be diagnosed by an eye doctor after a thorough eye exam.

The AOA offers some advice for people who use computers or other digital devices for long periods of time. Proper placement of a computer screen is at least 20 inches away and no more than 30 inches away. Measuring from the center of the screen, it should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. Good room lighting and good posture while sitting at a computer desk can reduce symptoms as well. Computer workers are advised to rest their eyes for 15 minutes per two hours of computer use.

Workplace injuries are often associated with construction or other blue collar jobs, but office workers are susceptible to injuries, too. Eye damage or even chronic headaches or back pain as the result of long hours spent at a computer could require medical treatment or even cause lost time from work. An office worker could wind up with financial difficulties due to a work-related health matter. Any injury or illness that is related to the performance of work duties could be covered by workers' compensation insurance.

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