Computer Vision Syndrome, sometimes called Digital Eye Strain, is a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods.
The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are
- Eye strain and discomfort
- Blurred vision
- Dry, scratchy eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
The extent to which individuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen. Uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and age-related changes of the eyes, known as presbyopia, can all contribute to visual discomfort when using a computer or digital screen device.
Many people don’t realize how hard their eyes are working in front of a computer screen and preventive measures may sound obvious but are frequently overlooked or ignored. Simple adjustments to lighting and posture can make a big difference. Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to do with the computer and how it is used.
- Location of the computer screen – Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking slightly downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen. The monitor should be situated approximately 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
- Lighting – 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.
- Seating position – Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while you are typing. Your wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard when typing.
- Rest breaks – Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, we recommend looking away from your computer at least every 20 minutes to gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. We call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue.
- Blinking – To minimize your chances of experiencing dry eyes when using a computer, make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist. When staring at a screen, people blink less frequently — only about one-third as often as they normally do — and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures, according to studies.
Having a comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, call us at (970) 377-0005 to schedule an appointment. During your exam, we will discuss how often you use a computer and digital devices at work and at home. The results of your exam will help us determine if you have Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain and we will advise you on treatment options.
In some cases, individuals who do not require the use of eyeglasses for other daily activities may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for computer use. Just as some people use glasses for driving at night, there are glasses specifically designed for use with a computer. In addition, persons already wearing glasses may find their current prescription does not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer. We will evaluate the best method in treating your digital eye strain so computer vision does not become an ongoing issue and lead to other eye problems. This eye condition is quite common so don’t hesitate to take the proper steps to improve your vision today.