Computer Vision Syndrome (Digital Eye Strain)
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a group of eye related problems and other issues that are induced from the overall stress incurred from the use of computer/ digital devices. CVS is not restricted to the eye alone but extends to all problems that arise from too much use of the computer and other digital devices like our phones, laptops, tablets and desktops. It is also called Digital Eye Strain and can affect all age groups exposed to the use of computer.
Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
Here are some of the things that one is likely to experience if one suffers from CVS:
- Blurry vision
- Eye aches
- Eye strain and fatigue
- Eye irritation and a feeling of dryness
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
Prevalence and Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
- Glare from computer: varying contrast from text/ objects viewed on our computer device can readily cause discomfort in the eye.
- Text type and font size: very small font sizes tend to cause more pressure to be exerted during screen time and can ultimately lead to eye strain and headache.
- Poor sitting posture: a working arrangement where one has to look up and down while alternating from the screen to a working material on the table and vice versa, is enough to cause neck strain and back aches.
- Studies in the past have proven that the blinking rate of the eyes is less than normal among computer users, this can allow dry eye to set in and cause eye irritation.
- Presence of uncorrected refractive error: not using a corrective lens when you need one or using a wrong prescription is expected to cause eye strain and fatigue when working on your computer.
- People around the age of 40 years: Naturally, a condition called presbyopia (difficulty reading at near 40yrs and above) will make any computer user that is within this age group and is not aiding their vision more likely to experience CVS.
Treatment and Recommendations
The following measures may be taken in order to prevent and manage symptoms from CVS:
- Glare control: using a glare protection on your computer screen, taking your work area away from an extra source of light that may cause disturbances, and the use of Anti-reflective lenses to protect the eye from harmful glare.
- Making some adjustments in your work environment: ensure the distance between the screen and your head level is not more than 28 inches and your screen is positioned directly below your eye level.
- Using a stand placed on your table to hold your working materials to ensure limited back and forth movement and reduce the chances of a neck strain and a good sitting posture.
- You may also want to manually adjust the contrast and font size using the settings on your computer to reduce eye strain while trying to focus.
- Making sure to use an updated prescription to work on the screen to limit the chances of headache and eye strain.
- Use of lubricants in form of eye drops and gels help soothe eye irritation and dryness caused by prolong use of the computer.
- Taking regular breaks from screen using the 20/20/20 rule that recommends a 20 second rest of the eyes after 20 minutes of screen time, looking 20 feet away.
Computer Vision Syndrome is a common condition due to the increased use of computers in our modern world today. Although it has not been proven that it can cause any permanent damage to the eye, it may however cause some unbearable discomforts to the eyes that needs attention.
Thus, when you or your child has any complaint related to computer vision syndrome, it is important to visit your Optometrist to rule out any refractive error (a reason to use glasses prescription) or dry eye. Employing other recommended measures may not totally erase the discomforts caused by computer vision syndrome, until these underlying problems are being taken care of by your eye doctor.