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Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain, is the term used for eye problems caused by computer use.

Whatever your age or the type of screen you use (including mobile phones and tablets) if you are in front of a screen for long enough there is a good chance you will experience discomfort, or worse.
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Eye health problems are increasing, an Optometry Australia report found that a higher proportion of Australians in 2022 are reporting issues such as dry, irritated or watery eyes, itchy eyes, and sensitivity to light.

The impact of increased screen time

88% of participants in the report said they have experienced sore or tired eyes when using a computer or tablet, which is an increase of 9% from 2020.

Our eyes are not designed for spending a long time looking at detailed images at the exact same distance from our face. Using a screen – either a computer, tablet, mobile or television means our eyes are performing the same task over and over again for hours at a time.

If you already have uncorrected vision problems or are wearing the wrong prescription, this can make problems even worse.

Screen time can also increase your risk of developing myopia – also known as short-sightedness. Your genes are only partly responsible for developing myopia, but close-focus is a contributing factor. Children who spend a lot of time focusing on near objects, such as books or screens, have a greater chance of becoming short-sighted. Especially if they do not spend time outside, as exposure to outside light is a factor to combating myopia.

Children and screen time
  • 63% of parents were concerned about their children’s screen time
  • 64% are concerned about the damage that screen time will have on their children’s eyesight
  • 31% said children only need an eye exam once they start showing symptoms

Optometry Australia recommend that all children have an eye check before they start school. One in five children has an undetected vision problem so it’s important that any problems are found earlier to give your child the best vision.

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What are the common symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

Symptoms can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Dry eye
  • Eye discomfort
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye itching
  • Eye redness
  • Eye tearing
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Many of these symptoms can be relieved by taking a brief break from staring at a screen.

Your symptoms will be more severe depending on how much strain you’ve put your eyes through during the day.

Getting relief

If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms the best thing to do is talk to an optometrist. They can give you a simple eye check to see if there is anything that might be causing the symptoms.

You can also take a regular break from your screens. The recommendation is every 20 minutes, look into the distance for 20 seconds.

See a Behavioural Optometrist

A Behavioural optometrist can help you by testing how your eyes focus and align. They also check that your vision system can maintain visual attention for periods of time.

Solutions they may give you are:

  • Glasses for computer use
  • Vision therapy
  • Visual hygiene advice
  • Eye drops for dry eyes

Glasses made specifically for screen use take into account the screen viewing distance and they may be tinted to counteract blue light.

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