In today’s technology based world, many of us stare at a computer monitor for hours a day. It’s what we do, but unfortunately not always great for our eyes as it may lead to computer vision syndrome, or CVS.
CVS is the name given to a wide range of eyestrain and pain that computer users experience after long hours on their machines. According to research, between 50% and 90% of people who use computers regularly have reported at least some eye issues.
It’s not just adults either. With the increasing time spent with computers in school and electronic devices in their spare time, kids are reporting trouble as well.
How computers affect vision
Like carpal tunnel syndrome or other injuries caused by repetitive motions, CVS is the result of the same action done over and over. As one works at a computer, the eyes continuously focus, shift back and forth, and then align with the work on the screen. Once the user looks down to a paper or other information, the process repeats again when the eyes refocus on the screen. All of these actions give the eye muscles a major workout. This workout is different than reading or doing paperwork, because the eyes are dealing with increased stimuli with changes in the screen like contrast, flicker, and glare.
Symptoms of CVS
- blurred vision
- double vision
- dry, red eyes
- eye irritation
- neck or back pain
Who it affects
CVS is more prevalent in people who are nearsighted or have astigmatism, or those who need glasses but don’t wear them all the time. Computer eye problems also increase as the eye ages, when the lens of the eye becomes less flexible.
What to do about CVS
You can help CVS by making a few simple changes.
1. Cut the glare. Check out the lighting around your computer to find light sources of unnecessary glare. Shut the shades, install dimmer lights, or put a glare filter over your monitor.
2. Change your computer settings. Adjust the brightness, contrast and font size to your comfort level.
3. Optimize your work space. Make sure your computer monitor is slightly below your eye level, about 20-28 inches from your face. Place a stand next to your computer that’s at eye level and place papers you need to reference there. This eliminates the need to look down and refocus when you stare at the screen.
4. Take a break! Look away from the screen every 20 minute or so. Walk around the office! Blink! It keeps your eyes moist.
Finally, remember that adults and children need regular eye visits. While regular computer use can cause significant eyestrain, there’s no evidence that it causes any long term damage to eyes. If eyestrain affects you, it’s a good idea to let your eye doctor know. He or she can give a thorough exam, and help find a solution that may include special computer glasses.