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Out of Focus: How prolonged computer use contributes to vision-related problems

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Not all that long ago, when people left work for the day, they left behind their connection to technology.

We live in a different world today. People stay connected around the clock with their laptops, tablets and cell phones and while Dr. Chad Shultz says our vision can't be permanently damaged by the devices; our eye sight can become strained.

"The eyes have muscles just like your body has muscles and when you over work them, you can get some type of fatigue," said Dr. Shultz with Eye Care Associates.

According to the American Optometric Association, roughly 140 million people, who spend most of their days in front of a computer screen, suffer the effects of computer vision syndrome, or CVS, a group of vision related issues brought on by staring a screen for an extended period of time. The most common side effects are headaches, eye strain, blurred vision and dry eyes.

"The dry eyes are a pretty substantial symptom with patients that do a lot of near work. A lot of that has to do with the blink rate being reduced. Just anytime you concentrate you tend to blink less," said Dr. Shultz.

So, what do you do to help eliminate those symptoms? For starters, Dr. Shultz says take breaks. The recommendation is that for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, you look into the distance for 20 seconds. Lubricating eye drops can help keep your eyes from drying out. And if it's the lighting that bothers you, Dr. Shultz recommends screen filters. Having the right prescription is key for those people with glasses.

"It could be a situation where if you don't have the right power in the glasses, you are trying to find that right position in the lens and you can start to give yourself some neck pain and things like that," said Dr. Shultz.

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