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Give Your Eyes a Break and the Link Between Mental Health and Our Vision




I’ve had several people reach out to me regarding eye health and today I’m going to talk about our eyes, how they can get strained from our handheld devices and computer screens but also how there is a link between our mental health and our vision.


First let’s talk about why it is important to give our eyes a break. For those that spend hours on computers working or gaming or on your little cell phone screens, there is a name for this eye strain, it is “Computer Vision Syndrome (CSV)”. While this doesn’t cause permanent eye damage it can cause discomfort and pain but also can affect your work performance.

The main cause for CSV includes inappropriate environment or improper use of eyeglasses or contact lenses and. Some symptoms for CSV are:

  • Dry eyes

  • Itchy eyes

  • Red eyes

  • Blurred vision

  • Headaches

  • Backaches

  • Neckaches

  • Muscle fatigue


There are ways we can eliminate the strain on our eyes caused by our environment. Try these tips out:


  • Move your computer screen to just beyond arms length away (20 – 26 inches), this will give your eyes a comfortable focus distance. You should also position it straight in front of you and not to the side to ease eye strain. The center of the monitor should be 4 – 8 inches lower than our eyes to allow our necks to relax

  • Reduce the glare and reflections on the computer screen by adjusting the lighting in the room, closing window blinds, adjusting the brightness and contrast on the monitor, or even adding a hood or filter on the monitor. This will help with strain but also may eliminate the need to squint

  • Place any documents or reference materials close to the screen as possible. This will stop your eyes from the need to refocus. Use a document holder beside the monitor to help with this. It will help with decrease neck strain, muscle fatigue, headaches and eye strain

  • Make sure you posture is good by using an adjustable chair so knees are bent at 90-degree angle with feet flat on the floor on a footrest. Sit straight against the backrest with forearms on armrest. The keyboard should be located lower than your elbow and within easy reach of your hands. Your head should be tilted down when looking at center of your screen

  • Dust, drafts or dry air can cause your eyes to be irritated therefore find ways to stop drafts and dust. Dust can also build up on your screen which decreases the sharpness and may cause eye strain so keep your monitor free of dust

  • Finally give your eyes and body a rest from the desk and screen. Taking frequent breaks and stepping away from the work or play center will not only give your eyes a chance to relax but your whole body will love you for it


Dr. Eye Health has a great YouTube video “5 Tips and Eye Exercises for Eye Strain Relief” that shows you what to do.


When it comes to glasses and contacts, the first thing we should do is talk to your ophthalmologist and provide full scope of how you use computers and handheld devices. The more they know about your personal situation the better they can diagnose what type of glasses you need. They can also diagnose if there are any issues with your eyes.


If you wear glasses, make sure they sit properly on your face. When we are fitted with prescription glasses the optical center of each lens is placed right in front of the eyes. If our glasses slip down on our noses, the center shifts which decreases the power of the glasses and will cause eye strain because it is trying to adjust for the blurring affect.


Bifocal, trifocal or progressive lens users will require an even more in-depth conversation with your ophthalmologist as the height of the bifocal may need to be adjusted or special glassed made specifically for the computer.


As for contact wearers you need to remember to blink while you work on the computer to avoid drying of the lens which will cause more itching and drying out. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops specifically for the contact lenses.


Dr. Eye Health talks about “Computer Glasses vs. Blue Light Glasses”. Figure out which ones are best for you.


The Link Between Mental Health and Your Vision


As we age our overall wellbeing gets impacted. This includes the health of our eyes where vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa can lead to blindness which in turn can lead to mental health concerns.


It is important to understand the link between mental health and our vision because it may cause problems like anxiety and depression due to living with a vision problem. Working with your health professionals is key. Myvision.org has a great website to educate us on the link between mental health and vision.

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