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Computer Vision Syndrome


What is Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain??

Do you get headaches or eyestrain from staring at your computer screen? Then you may be suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome or digital eye strain.

Eye or Vision related problems occur because of excessive use of electronic devices with visual displays like computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone. According to a survey, American workers spend on an average of seven hours a day in front of a screen. This is more time in front of a screen as compare to your average sleep at night! This can put a real strain on your eyes.

The most common symptoms you may experience with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurry Vision
  • Dry and Red Eyes
  • Double Vision
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • Eye Irritation

Working on a computer is more intriguing to your eyes than reading a book as a computer screen adds contrast, flicker and glare. CVS is more likely to happen if you already have an eye problem, if you have glasses but don't wear them or wear the wrong prescription while using computer.

Sometimes the symptoms you experience are only temporary and will reduce digital eye strain after stopping or reducing use of the digital device. However, some individuals may experience continued reduced visual abilities even after stopping computer use. If the symptoms of computer vision syndrome are not treated, it will worsen with future digital screen use.

Your eye care professional can diagnose computer vision syndrome through an eye exam, with special attention paid to how the eye works and responds at computer distance.

Causes for Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain

  • Uncorrected or Undercorrected Vision: You are more likely to face Vision problems if you already have eye trouble, if you need glasses but don't have them, or if you wear the wrong prescription for computer use.

  • Glare and Reflections: Direct glare or light that shines directly into the eyes such as overhead lights and light from windows, can make viewing the screen difficult and cause eyestrain and headaches. Even Reflections off your monitor can make your eyes tired.

  • Distances and Angles: Poor positioning of your monitor can make it difficult to focus on the screen. Viewing distances and angles used for digital screen can place additional demand on our visual system like eye focusing and more eye movement. Brightness and contrast used for digital screen is also a major cause for CVS.

  • Your monitor: The redraw or refresh rate of many monitors is 60 Hz. This speed can cause a flicker that makes the screen appear to roll. The flicker stimulates the eye to accommodate or to refocus, tiring the visual system.

  • Decreased blink rate: As we stare at the digital screen or while reading, our blink rate decreases. People tend to blink about half a time than normal when they are working on a digital screen . This will cause your eyes to feel dry and burn.

  • Prolonged Use of Digital Devices: Those who spend two or more continuous hours in front of digital screen device every day have greatest risk for developing CVS. The visual demands of the task they are performing everyday exceed the visual abilities to comfortably perform them, this causes to decvelop CVS.

How is Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain diagnosed?

After considering your current symptoms and pre-existing conditions, Computer Vision Syndrome is diagnosed through testing, with special emphasis on visual requirements of digital device working distance. Special test includes:

  • Visual acuity:
    to Measure the quality of your current vision to know the extent to which vision may be affected.

  • Patient history:
    To determine any symptoms the patient is experiencing and the presence of any general health problems, medications taken,aging eyes, and/or diabetic eye problems, or any environmental factors that may be contributing to the symptoms related to computer use.

  • Refraction:
    Tests to determine the appropriate lens power needed to optimize your vision.

  • Focus and Eye Coordination:
    In order to obtain a clear and single image both the eyes must effectively change focus, move and work simultaneously. This testing will check how well your eyes work together and how fast and perfectly your eyes are able to focus on objects and varying distances.

After getting all the information acquired from these tests, your optometrist can confirm if you have Computer Vision Syndrome.

Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome

Some solutions to reduce your risk of digital screen-related vision problems.

  1. Having a routine detail eye check-up is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort.

  2. Daily eye exercises can help you to strengthen and relax your eye muscles and increase your natural flexibility and focus.

  3. Blinking is very important when working at a computer. To minimize your chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, blink frequently. Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.

  4. Follow "20-20-20 rule". Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes to a distant object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. (Need Image)

  5. To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use.

  6. Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor.

  7. Position your computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The center of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck.

  8. Adjust the brightness of the display so it's approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort.

  9. Reference materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor or Place them on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor.