Computer Fatigue Syndrome – CFS

RECOVERY PLAN

Myths: Computers do not harm your eyes.

Facts: Computers are the number 1 cause of eyestrain.

Overview:

According to information published on November 19, 1999, “Computer vision syndrome (CVS), defined as a complex of eye and vision problems that are experienced during and related to computer use, is a repetitive strain disorder that appears to be growing rapidly, with some studies estimating that 90 percent of the 70 million U.S. workers using computers for more than 3 hours per day experience it (CVS) in some form.”

The use of computers in the western world is growing exponentially. The amount of time one spends looking at a computer screen is also increasing similarly. Humans evolved biologically as “hunters and gatherers”. Our vision developed primarily for seeing distance (98% of all humans are born farsighted). Our eye muscle systems are in their most relaxed state when we use our vision for distance objects and space. In similar fashion, our bodies were designed for movement. Maintaining a sitting posture for long periods of time is unnatural for us.

As a result, working at a computer for a long period of time without breaks can cause unnatural strain on us that can result in a condition called “computer fatigue syndrome”. Computer users have shown to have a reduced average blinking time while using computers, which, according to Japanese investigators, causes a major risk of developing transient, or short-term dry eyes.

Over a period of time, excessive computer use can have cumulative negative effects on the user including the worsening of farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye-focusing disorders and poor eye coordination. In addition, constant working from a set position can cause neck and shoulder stiffness, as well as stress headaches, which can then cause pain in the jaw (referred to TMJ or temporomandibular joint).

Symptoms:

-Eyestrain
-Blurred vision
-Dizziness or nausea
-Headaches
-Change in colour perception
-Increase in nearsightedness
-Red, dry or burning eyes
-Slow refocusing
-Excessive fatigue
-Neck, shoulder and back pain
-Eye-teaming problems and/or occasional double vision

Causes:

-Extending short distance focusing
-Reduced average blinking time
-Poor lighting
-Poor Posture
-Excessive glare
-Starchy Diet (see Starch Study)

Conventional Treatment:

-Aspirin
-Stronger glasses

Complementary Treatment:

The Recovery Plan is essential to alleviate this problem.

Self Help:

There are a number of simple things you can do to help protect your vision when using computers, including the following:

  • Set up your computer correctly. The proper viewing distance is 20-24 inches. The correct viewing angle is 10 to 20 degrees from the mid-screen to the top of the screen.
  • Use a good monitor. Usually the higher the resolution (the more pixels) the better. Monochrome displays usually have better resolution than colour. For colour monitors, look for smaller dots per inch (less than .28mm). Higher refresh rates (flicker speeds) are preferred, at least 70 Hz. Make sure the monitor has a high enough illumination to match the surroundings (be aware that antireflection screens reduce illumination).
  • Do eye exercises every 30 minutes.
  • Use proper posture. This includes a tucked in chin, slight curve at the neck rather than a forward head and neck, a straight upper back with only a slight roundedness, and hollow in the low back.
  • Make sure overall illumination of the room is no more than three times brighter than the screen
  • Adjust screen brightness and contrast properly.
  • Use a desk lamp if possible instead of an overhead light.
  • Control glare from overhead lights and uncurtained windows. Use an anti-glare screen, or move your terminal to an area of limited glare.
  • Keep your wrists relatively straight while typing to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome. Wrist support pads can be very helpful.
  • If you work in a cubicle, try to give it a feeling of more expansiveness by, for example, placing a mirror on one of the walls to create the illusion of more space and changing the viewing distance.