Article from USANA website Australia region published 14th, Mar, 2016.
In today’s society use our eyes to stare at computer screens, televisions, tablets and mobile phones more than ever before. This means that our eyes are focused at the same distance for much longer than in the past, which may result in eyestrain, headaches and even a sore back or stiff neck.
The increase in screen-time has not only been linked to eye fatigue but also to an increase in eye related issues. Alarmingly a new study has found that half the world’s population will be short-sighted in 30 years, with one of the main factors being our society’s reliance on technology.
The name for eye problems caused by computer use is computer vision syndrome (CVS). CVS is not one specific eye problem. Instead, the term encompasses a whole range of eye strain and pain experienced by computer users.
Research shows somewhere between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye trouble. This doesn’t only apply to adults though; kids who stare at portable video games or tablets or who use computers throughout the day at school can also experience eye problems related to screen use.
Computer vision syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries at work and occurs when you’re carrying out the same motion over and over again. Working at a computer requires that the eyes continuously focus, move back and forth, and align with what you are seeing. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type, and the eyes have to accommodate to changing images on the screen in order to create a clear picture for the brain to interpret. These all require a lot of effort from eye muscles.
Computer eye problems are more likely to occur if you already have an eye problem, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, or if you need glasses but don’t wear them or wear the wrong prescription for computer use. Working at a computer also gets more difficult as you get older because the lens of your eye becomes less flexible. The ability to focus on near and far objects starts to diminish after about age 40, this is a condition called presbyopia.
If you have computer vision syndrome, you may experience some or all of these symptoms, and if they are not treated, they can have a real effect on your work performance:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry, red eyes
- Eye irritation
- Neck or back pain
Except for when we are asleep our eyes are constantly exposed to environmental factors such as air pollution, dryness and oxidative stress from sunlight. All of these, and other factors, can damage different parts of our eye structure (see diagram). Some examples of how sunlight can damage the eyes include:
Intraocular melanoma: Although rare, it is the most common eye cancer in adults. It starts in the uveal tract, the middle layer of the eye containing the iris (the part of the eye responsible for eye color) and the pupil, which lies in the center of the iris. Symptoms may include a dark spot on the iris, blurred vision, or a change in the pupil’s shape. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
Cataracts: A progressive clouding and yellowing of the crystalline lens, the eye’s focusing mechanism. At least 10 percent of cataract cases are directly attributable to UV exposure. Cataracts are the most common cause of treatable blindness worldwide, and UVB has been directly linked to cataracts.
Macular degeneration: Often referred to as age-related, or senile, macular degeneration, it is caused by damage to the retina over time. The retina is the ocular membrane where images are formed and transmitted to the brain; the macula, the region of sharpest vision near the center of the retina, is the most likely area to be damaged. Macular degeneration is one of the major causes of vision loss in the U.S. for people over age 60. While further research is required, some studies point to UVA and HEV light as potential causes of macular degeneration.
Keratitis, or corneal sunburn: Excessive exposure to UV from the sun or tanning machines can literally burn the cornea, the eye’s clear refracting surface that admits light and images to the retina. UV-protective lenses are therefore especially a must for anyone who uses a tanning machine, as well as for skiers or snowboarders, since UV is more intense at high altitudes, and since snow reflects back the sun’s rays, so that they hit your eyes a second time.
With so much at stake for our quality of life it’s super important for us to protect and take maximum care of our eyes. Regular eye breaks, checkups, exercise and a balanced diet are all important parts of your overall eye health and wellbeing. There are also many other tips which can help improve your eye health (stay tuned for next week’s blog) including adding more of the following ingredients such as lutein, vitamin C, bilberry and zinc to your diet.
Perhaps it’s time we all took a step back and thought about the last time you looked up from your computer screen, put down your phone or wore the correct sunglasses outside, and start doing something about it. Your eyes will thank you for it.
Tips to improve your eye health
With current social trends showing we are using our electronic devices more than ever before, with some people even admitting to having a screen in front of them for more than 9 hours a day, it’s no wonder that research shows eye related issues are on the rise.
Luckily, there are ways to improve your vision without sacrificing your electronic devices, these include:
1. Walking away: Make sure you take a 10 minute break away from your screen for every hour. It’s important to look away from your screen and blink to give your eyes a chance to lubricate and adjust.
2. Change your settings: Increase your font size on your computer, tablet or phone so your eyes don’t have to strain to read the text. You can also add filters to your screen to cut down the glare which can also be associated with eyestrain.
3. Visit a doctor: Everyone, including young children, should get their eyes examined regularly. This helps you to not only protect your sight but can also lead to the detection of some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that have no symptoms. Depending on your eye health needs, you can see either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialise in eye care. They can provide general eye care, treat eye diseases, and perform eye surgery. Optometrists provide general eye care and treat the most common eye diseases. They examine eyes for both vision and health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low vision care and vision therapy.
4. Eat for your eyes: Research shows nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration. Foods which can help your eye health include green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards; salmon, tuna, and other oily fish; eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources; fruits such as oranges and other citrus fruits or berries such as blueberries and bilberries. Since majority of Australians do not consume the recommended servings of fruits and veggies, supplementation is important to meet the nutrition gap. Why not try a supplement like USANA’s Visionex™ which contains guaranteed levels of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamin C, zinc and bilberry extract or USANA’s BiOmega™ which is an excellent way to consume healthy omega-3 fatty acids without the fishy aftertaste?
5. Put your shades on: Sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which is very important as too much UV exposure makes you more likely to get cataracts and macular degeneration. When buying sunglasses you should choose ones which block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses also help protect your eyes from the side and polarized lenses reduce glare when driving.
6. Safety first: You should always wear safety/protective glasses when working with hazardous or airborne materials on the job or at home. Certain sports can also lead to eye injury so it’s important to wear eye protection such as helmets with protective face masks or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses to shield your eyes from any flying objects or even limbs.
By incorporating the above tips in your lifestyle you should be able to improve the health and condition of your eyes. Your eyes are probably the most important of your five senses so it’s important you look after and protect them.