Even IPad Users At Risk of Computer Vision Syndrome

by VR Sreeraman on Mar 10 2012 8:31 PM

 Even IPad Users At Risk of Computer Vision Syndrome
Even staring at iPad screen for long periods of time without taking a break could cause "computer vision syndrome" in users, finds a study.
According to the American Optometric Association, symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes. Many of us may already have the syndrome and not even realize it.

People who spend two or more continuous hours in front of a computer or digital media each day are most at risk for computer vision syndrome, according to Wake Forest Family Eyecare.

New York optometrist Dr Justin Bazan, who serves on Better Vision Institute, told HealthPop that this syndrome is caused by two factors.

Computer, tablet and smartphone screens are typically held close, which causes eye strain. Also, these screens always show pixilated images, which cause our eyes to shift in and out of focus without us even realizing it. That's weakening the eye's focusing muscles, the doctor says, causing the eyes to work hard to maintain focus. Bazan added that if the screen is small, people tend to hold it even closer to their eyes, CBS news reported.

Dr Matthew Gardiner an ophthalmologist at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, said last month that people forget to blink when they stare so closely at these screens, which can lead to dry eyes and irritation. Dr Bazan agrees, saying that a normal blink rate is a few times every few seconds, but when staring at a screen, the rate drops to a few blinks per few minutes.

To reduce the risk of developing this syndrome, Dr Bazan recommends a "20-20-20" rule, in which for every 20 minutes of screen time, people should look away for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away. It'll give the eyes a chance to refresh, and may reduce symptoms of computer vision syndrome. For desktop computer users, keep the monitor at arm's length and the top at eye-level, the downward gaze is easier on the eyes.

Though not an iPad expert, Dr Bazan thinks Apple's announcement of a new "retina display" might stave off some of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, since users supposedly will be less able to distinguish pixels from one another.