The Facts About Computer Vision Syndrome: Recognize the symptoms and ways to prevent it.
The Facts About Computer Vision Syndrome: Recognize the symptoms and ways to prevent it.

Article by Dr. Radhika Chawla, O.D

Computers have become a part of every day life for many. For both children and adults, sitting in front of a computer screen for hours is becoming more and more common.

Every day we have patients coming into our office suffering from blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, tired and dry eyes that comes and goes. In some cases, they have gone their whole life without glasses but now, by the end of the day, they can’t seem to hold their focus. What’s one of the first questions we ask to these patients? ... How many hours of their day are spent on the computer?

Recent research has shown the impact of computers on vision with a rise in visual problems. It is important to find out how you can protect your eyes through eye health exams and a few changes in your computer habits.

What is CVS, Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome, commonly referred to as ‘CVS’, is an eye condition that describes vision problems and ocular discomfort due to extended periods of time in front of the computer. There are an increasing number of people who work in office environments that require them to sit at a computer for over 6 hours a day.

When the eye views a computer screen, our focusing system are forced to work harder by adjusting the eye muscles to meet the visual demands. Prolonged computer use results in eye fatigue, eventually leading to a number of symptoms. Patients suffering from CVS often complain of headaches, eyestrain, dry eyes and occasional blurry vision.

What causes Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?

Although the main cause of CVS is the amount of time spent in front of a screen, there are other factors that may contribute to the severity of the symptoms that can be experienced.

Reading on a computer is different that reading on a printed page of material. Having an uncorrected glasses prescription can cause difficulty focusing at the computer, even though it may go unnoticed when looking into the distance. Also, poor eye coordination abilities, the aging eye, and improper viewing distances can all result in eyestrain.

These symptoms may be further aggravated by poor lighting, glare on the computer screen, improper viewing distances and poor seating posture.

The extent to which an individual will experience these visual symptoms often depends on their visual abilities and the amount of time spent on the computer. Although for some individuals these symptoms may be temporary by resolving when computer work has stopped but for some these symptoms of reduced visual abilities persist.

How is Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosed?

Computer vision syndrome can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist. It is important to share with your optometrist the symptoms you experience while on the computer.

Testing with a special emphasis on computer requirements can be performed. Depending on the diagnosis of being far or near-sighted and/or astigmatism, your eyes could be exerting additional effort to focus or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear and comfortable image on your computer screen.

How do we treat CVS?

Solutions to CVS vary depending upon the individual. Individuals who do not require glasses for daily actives may benefit from glasses designed specifically for the computer. Those already wearing glasses may find that their glasses do not provide optimal vision on the computer. Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort.

The optometrist may recommend glasses to be worn just at the computer or some exercises to strengthen the focusing system. If CVS is left untreated, it can lead to the distance vision becoming blurred as well.

Here a few tips to reduce the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome:

1. Have your vision checked through a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist.
2. The 20-20-20 rule was developed as a quick temporary fix for computer vision syndrome symptoms. It recommends that every 20 minutes we should take 20 seconds to look away from the computer and give our eyes 20 good blinks.
3. Check the ergonomics and lighting of your workstation.
4. An anti-reflective coating can reduce discomfort and will ease reduced vision that could be resulting from a bright or flickering source, such as your computer. This coating can be applied on the lenses of your glasses by your optometrist.

A visit to your optometrist will help determine the main causes of your CVS. For many of us avoiding working on our computers all day may not be an option however a few simple changes can make it easier on the eyes.