March Is Save Your Vision Month

Each March, the American Optometric Association (AOA) celebrates Save Your Vision Month. This year, the focus of the observance is on preventing workplace eye strain and eye injuries. Whether you spend your work day on a computer or wielding a heavy piece of machinery, taking the proper precautions to protect your eyes is crucial. The AOA reports that visual discomfort, eye strain, and eye injuries in the workplace are not only common but cost billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

Most people understand the importance of protecting their eyes from obvious, physical harm, such as wearing safety goggles when using any kind of tool that creates a hazard to the eyes. However, most people do not realize the strain caused by work on a computer or smart phone can have on the eyes over time. According to the AOA, nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) spend five or more hours a day using a computer or personal digital assistant (PDA). While this technology is helpful in completing work-related tasks, prolonged use of electronic devices may lead to symptoms of a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

Symptoms of CVS include:

  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of focus

The AOA has developed a list of recommendations to help protect eyes against the long-term effects and damage that CVS may cause. One of these recommendations is the 20-20-20 rule, which recommends that every 20 minutes a person should take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Adjusting the brightness and resolution on your computer screen offers greater clarity and comfort, as can reducing the glare caused by a computer or handheld device.

When using a PDA, a small screen also means a small font that can cause strain on the eyes. Instead of just bringing the screen closer to your face, increase the font size on the device so that it can be used at a distance that is more comfortable for your eyes. Additionally, because it is easier on the eyes to focus on reading material that is below eye level, the AOA recommends a computer monitor or hand-held device be positioned slightly below eye level.

Follow these suggestions to ensure your eyes stay healthy.

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