Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Occupational Hazard: Computer Vision Syndrome

Modern book publishing requires editors to spend hours upon hours editing text on the computer screen. This is obviously more efficient than editing on hard copy; but it's also more difficult for the eyes. Experts estimate that nearly 126 million people suffer from a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome. As it turns out, I am one of them.

Symptoms of CVS include the following:
  • Headaches
  • Loss of focus
  • Burning/tired eyes
  • Double/blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pains

My condition was just diagnosed last Friday. For the past six months or so, I have noticed that the big aisle signs in Wal-Mart are now blurry. I have trouble focusing my eyes while driving. And I have always had terrible headaches. My mother-in-law and mom both said, "Well, yeah, you turned 40, so your eyes have gone bad. That's how it works."

So as someone who has made my living with my eagle eyes, and spent my childhood being the champion four-leaf-clover and morel finder, I realized I couldn't afford to let it get worse. So I went for my first eye exam in 7 years.

After a battery of high-tech tests (one of which even eliminates the need to dilate your pupils), my eye doctor announced that she thought I have CVS. Believe it or not, I still have 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/15 in the other, but because I strain my eye muscles constantly looking at details on the computer, they have trouble focusing on "the big picture," so to speak.

So I'm getting glasses. My first glasses ever. But I only have to wear them when I'm editing on the computer. They have a Teflon coating to reduce glare and make me look all brainy like Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino. Well, maybe not so much like her.

To read more about CVS and how to minimize its effects, see http://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/. Take care of your eyes. As an editor, they are absolutely your most valuable asset.

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