Itchy and watery eyes, sore neck and back, headaches and squinting: these are just some of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Most authors spend eight hours a day or more sitting in front of a computer, and it can take a toll on their bodies. How many times do you need eye drops during an intense writing session? Do your shoulders or hands feel twisted and tense after a day of writing? Computer vision syndrome can even contribute to serious eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration. If you want to be an author for the long term, it's important for you to take care of your tools of the trade, and your eyes are among the most valuable ones you have.
Your Glasses Prescription
Do you find yourself leaning forward toward the monitor because you just can't make out the words on the screen? You may need a new eyeglass prescription. Even if your normal glasses are fine, your eyes may not be focusing correctly in the middle distance. As people age, their eyes' ability to change focus gets weaker. By the time you reach 50 you may need glasses for distance, reading glasses for closeup work, and a third pair specifically for use at the computer. Have a professional eye exam, and tell your eye doctor that you're looking to find out if you need computer glasses. It's a common request, she'll know exactly what you mean. Having the right prescription for your monitor will allow you to use the right posture, eliminating back and neck ache.
Even if you have absolutely perfect posture, exposing your eyes to a computer monitor for hours at a time takes its toll. Monitors, along with televisions, smart phones and other devices, give off a light on the spectrum called blue light. Blue light is a naturally-occurring light, and is healthy in small doses. It's the part of the spectrum that makes you feel energetic and awake, and gives you a happy feeling when you go out in the sunshine. Too much blue light, though, can do temporary and permanent damage to your eyes.
In the short term, too much blue light can make your eyes dry and itchy, watery and scratchy, or hard to focus. It may give you blurry vision or temporary spots in front of your eyes. This can be resolved by spending time away from the screen. The worst problem with blue light is that the damage is cumulative, which means it keeps adding up as long as you expose your eyes to it. Gather enough blue light damage to your eyes and you can suffer from cataracts, macular degeneration or other permanent eye damage.
Behavioral changes such as looking away from the screen every 20 minutes, closing blinds to reduce glare and putting the monitor at the right angle can help, but for the best defense you need blue light blocking glasses. You eye care professional can put a blue-blocking coating on any pair of glasses. Don't rely on cheap drugstore blue blocker sunglasses; these will change your view but won't give your eyes enough protection. Your eyes are a valuable professional tool; they're worth the time and money it takes to give them professional protection.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with you!