Computer Vision Syndrome: Learn More About Symptoms of CVS

Computer Vision Syndrome

In this increasingly digital world, people are spending more and more time in front of computers. And, with that comes an increased amount of computer-related vision problems. Chief among them is computer vision syndrome, or CVS. Learn more about the characteristics of CVS and find out if it’s an issue you may want to bring up with your optometrist.

What is computer vision syndrome?

CVS isn’t one specific issue, but rather a range of eye and vision problems that are the result of prolonged computer use. It’s estimated that between 50-90% of people who spend at least three hours a day in front of a computer screen experience some symptoms of CVS. Kids who spend long hours playing video games on portable devices, computers or televisions may also suffer from CVS symptoms.

What causes computer vision syndrome?

When you work at a computer, your eyes are required to focus, align and realign with what you’re looking at. If you have to look away from the screen at a coworker or papers on your desk, back and forth between two different monitors, or at changing images on the screen, your eyes have to accommodate and refocus in order to create a clear image for your brain to interpret. All of this movement is a lot of effort for your eye muscles, as is the light, flicker, glare and contrast elements of the screen. Because the eyes are working so hard, they get strained and the symptoms of CVS may begin to surface.

What are the symptoms of computer vision syndrome?

The most common CVS symptoms include:

Eye irritation and strain

Dry eyes

Headaches

Blurred vision

Neck or back pain

While these symptoms won’t lead to long-term vision problems or diseases, letting them go untreated will likely have an effect on your work productivity and overall comfort level.

How can you avoid computer vision syndrome?

You may be able to relieve your CVS symptoms or avoid experiencing them altogether by making a few simple changes to your work space.

Reduce glare: Position your computer in such a way that desk lamps, overhead lights or light from a window are not casting a glare on your screen. If there’s no way to avoid glare, consider placing a glare filter over your monitor. Or, if you wear eyeglasses, invest in anti-reflective coating on your lenses to further reduce glare and subsequent eyestrain.

Take breaks: Give your eyes a break and look away from the computer screen every half hour or so. Try to also remember to blink often and use artificial tears to keep eyes from getting too dry.

Adjust computer settings: Take a look at how your computer is set for brightness, contrast and other elements and adjust them until you find the settings most comfortable for your eyes.

Wear your glasses or contact lenses: Even if your prescription isn’t that strong, wearing your glasses or contact lenses while you’re working at a computer may help reduce CVS symptoms. Your eyes might be straining slightly to read the screen because of astigmatism or nearsightedness which only adds to the strain they’re already experiencing when focusing on the computer screen.

Visit your optometrist for regular eye exams so you can ensure your prescription is current and you can address any other vision issues you’re experiencing. Your doctor can also help you determine more ways to avoid or eliminate the effects of CVS.

Post is sponsored by LensCrafters. 

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5 Comments

  1. sara's Gravatar sara
    January 25, 2013    

    This article couldn’t come at a better time! I was just saying how my eyes have been bothering me and wondering if it was from staring at the computer all day long at work.

  2. Caitlin's Gravatar Caitlin
    January 25, 2013    

    My eyes have been bothering me lately, and I was just thinking that I haven’t been to an eye Dr. since the 4th grade! I wonder if CVS is something I may have, considering I stare at a computer all day!

  3. January 26, 2013    

    The eyes are a strange beast I think. It is no surprise that computers would have such a negative impact, and we unfortunately must spend so much time looking at them!

  4. January 27, 2013    

    Jenna,
    Here is a good article that talks about what height to set your monitor and distance to reduce strain.

    http://www.healthycomputing.com/office/setup/monitor/index.html

    I did not know until a couple of years ago that you should set the monitor at a certain height to reduce strain.

    • January 27, 2013    

      Oh wow! I didn’t know that. I’ll have to read that article and see what kind of adjustments I can make. My eyes are already going bad. Thanks!

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