Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome Optometrist
Table of Contents

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain, occurs when people spend excessive time in front of a computer screen or on digital devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones. Staring at a computer screen is not akin to reading a book.

When we stare at a screen for extended periods our rate of eye-blinking significantly decreases. The ocular fatigue attributed to this reduced blinking strains our eyes. Factors that contribute to this eye fatigue include:

  • Exposure to excessive screen glare
  • The strain of reading and viewing unclear letters and images
  • Dry eyes
  • Poor ergonomics, either with an awkward work set-up which places additional strain on our eyes, or poor posture and body alignment.

There are many misconceptions about digital eye strain. These include:

  • The unproven assertion that high levels of blue light emitting from these devices are responsible for eye strain.
  • The misconception that blue light leads to harmful effects long-term.
  • The claim that “blue-light” glasses reduce exposure to blue light, and thus prevents or improves the condition.
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There is no conclusive evidence to support these assertions. Evidence shows that the effects of CVS are temporary and that they do not lead to serious ocular complications. Most importantly, the reason we experience these symptoms is our misuse of digital devices. By changing our behaviors we can reduce the effects.

In today's technological age where many people work long hours in front of computers, digital eye strain has become more common. The following article will explain basic facts about this condition, how to recognize its signs, and how to treat it.

Symptoms of Eye Strain

Symptoms of Eye Strain

There are a wide range of signs and symptoms associated with ocular strain from digital devices. Common symptoms include:
  • headaches
  • difficulty sleeping
  • eye discomfort
  • dry eyes
  • blurred vision
  • neck strain and shoulder pain
Treatment for Digital Eye Strain: How To Relieve Eye Strain

Treatment for Digital Eye Strain: How To Relieve Eye Strain

If you suspect that you may have CVS, schedule a comprehensive ocular examination with an optometrist. By checking visual acuity and testing for refractive errors and overall ocular health, the optometrist can determine if you have this condition. For most people, the effects of eye strain can be improved by adopting several measures. These include:
  • Screen glare filter: Attaching a matter filter can reduce glare.
  • Change the settings: Reducing glare by changing the settings or by tilting the screen downward.
  • Treating ocular disorders: Take corrective measures for ocular disorders or complications. Undetected or uncorrected vision may cause or exacerbate eye strain. Have a comprehensive eye exam to assess visual acuity and eye health, to determine the cause of the strain.
  • Dry eyes: Excessive dryness may cause ocular strain. Try using artificial teardrops to moisturize your eyes. Contact lenses have a tendency to cause drying, so consider switching to prescription glasses when working at the computer.
  • Better ergonomics: Maintain proper ergonomics with good posture and body alignment:
    • Ensure that you are an arms' length away from the screen
    • Avoid working from odd angles which can cause ocular strain.
    • Keep your chair height at a comfortable level and maintain good posture
    • Maintain appropriate eye level with the screen. Some experts claim that the center of the screen should be approximately 4-5 inches below eye level.
    • Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • 20-20-20 rule: Take a break periodically from your digital devices. Every 20 minutes, find an object 20 feet away, and stare at it for 20 seconds.
  • Maintain proper lighting: Poor lighting can cause or exacerbate strain. Some people use overhead lamps to reduce glare. Additional options include using shades or blinds to cover windows in your workspace in order to reduce the glare from the sun.
  • Blink more: Make sure to blink whenever you can. This may sound silly but making a conscious effort to blink more frequently will reduce eye fatigue. Many suggest taping a “post-it” note near your screen to remind you.
  • Take a break: Reduce exposure to digital screens whenever possible. If you spend all day in front of a screen, minimize unnecessary exposure in the evenings.
  • Be smartphone savvy:
    • Set your smartphone to the night setting in the evening
    • Try to eliminate or reduce your screen time several hours before going to sleep

Common Questions

A comprehensive eye examination will enable the optometrist to determine if your symptoms are related to digital strain or some other complication.
The inability to focus on academic or professional tasks without experiencing discomfort may affect your academic and professional performance.
The science on blue light and its impact on our retina and circadian rhythm is still being developed. However most of the science would agree that blue light is not directly responsible for the discomfort you may be experiencing in your eyes. The potential problems with blue light is more related to long term health of extensive exposure. Computer vision syndrome is a real condition that impacts our comfort and eye health, however, blue light glasses won't really help with computer vision syndrome. There are, however, other ways to prevent computer vision syndrome, such as taking breaks from digital devices, following the 20-20-20 rule, blinking more, using lenses that reduce eye strain, using lenses that are optimized for mid-distance, using anti glare lenses, and reducing screen brightness levels.
Computer Vision Syndrome
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Computer Vision Syndrome

CVS is caused by excessive exposure to digital devices over extended periods of time, which leads to eye fatigue. As we have shown, there are many steps you can take to reduce or eliminate symptoms such as by reducing screen glare, improving ergonomics, blinking more, taking breaks, and preventing your eyes from overdrying.
Digital eye strain is not considered harmful and the symptoms are not permanent although the effects can be annoying, painful, and uncomfortable.

There is no conclusive evidence that blue light causes eye strain or that special blue light glasses can alleviate the symptoms. If you believe that you are experiencing CVS symptoms, schedule a comprehensive eye examination to find out more. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can reduce or eliminate the effects.

Your Vision Matters! Contact a Specialty Vision practice near you by phone or in person to schedule your comprehensive eye exam. Professionals are prepared to offer the best care.