Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a computer screen or any other digital screen. The symptoms are eye redness and irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, fatigue, back and neck pain, and headaches.
The use of computers or other digital devices is common in the modern workplace and school. Both adults and children are susceptible to acquiring CVS. Computers and electrical documentation systems are common culprits for adults, and computers/tablets and hand-held video games are the greatest contributors to children.
When you work in front of the computer, your eyes are in a constant state of focus. They have to work in order to keep the image you are looking at clear. That work is done by muscles, and just like any other muscle in your body, your eye muscles fatigue. Reading from a computer is much more demanding than reading text on paper. With a computer, your eyes are looking at a pixilated image and you also have to deal with flicker, screen glare and contrast. The viewing distance and angle varies from that of other near tasks, adding additional strain to the visual system.
CVS can be further aggravated by uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness, astigmatism, eye focusing and teaming deficiencies, and presbyopia (the age-related loss of focusing ability on near objects.) Even professionally prescribed eyeglasses may not be properly suited for computer/electronic device use. If you find that you are adjusting your head, experiencing neck and back pain, or leaning closer to the monitor to obtain a clear image, these may all be signs that you may need your prescription adjusted by your eye care professional.
During your annual comprehensive eye evaluation, your eye doctor can review your symptoms and the environmental factors that contribute to your discomfort during computer use. They will also check your prescription and your eyes ability to focus and work together. Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be the ideal correction. Eyeglasses designed to optimize your eyesight when looking at a digital screen may be required. Special lens designs, lens powers, anti-reflective coatings or tints can maximize vision and comfort. In some cases, individuals who otherwise do not need vision correction can benefit from computer glasses.
When working on the computer, minimize visual discomfort on your own by following these tips.
•Make sure your monitor is at its optimal position (at least 20 inches from your eyes and about four to five inches below eye level measured from the center of the screen.)
•Avoid glare from overhead lighting or widows, or consider an anti-glare screen.
•Blink. It may seem silly but your blink rate decreases when you are working on a computer, leading to dry eyes.
•Remember 20-20-20: Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, this will help to relax your eyes throughout the day.
•Ensure proper seat height and lumbar position.