Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome

Prolonged computer, tablet, cell phone and other digital device use can lead to a group of eye and vision related problems known computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.

2020 was a year in which we all became much more familiar with being indoors. When all the puzzles were completed most Americans relied on digital devices for their main source of entertainment while staying home, friends and families stayed connected with video chats, and  for the lucky even their jobs were completed from home online. The average screen time for Americans has without doubt increased.

Viewing a computer or digital screen is different than reading a printed page.

Viewing distances and angles used for computers are also often different from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks on paper. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for digital screen viewing can place great demands on the visual system. Uncorrected vision problems can increase the severity of computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eyestrain symptoms. Uncorrected vision or under correction could be the main factor contributing to computer related eyestrain. Even if you already have a prescription for glasses or contacts it may not be designed for specific viewing distance of your computer screen. If you find yourself tilting your head at uncomfortable angles or bending toward or away from your screen in order to see clearly it may mean your glasses are not made for the specific viewing distance of your device. Irregular posture can result in neck, shoulder, or back pain.

Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms

Blurred vision or problems focusing

Headaches

Dry Eyes (burning or stinging sensation of the eyes)

Neck and shoulder pains

Tired or irritated eyes.

If you experience these visual symptoms it can be related to several factors, uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, poor eye coordination efficiency or eye alignment, and changes of the eye related to aging like presbyopia.

Much of digital eyestrain symptoms are only temporary and usually decline when cutting back or discontinuing screen time. For some reduced visual function may continue, for example blurred distance vision, even after stepping away from the computer. Should nothing be done to fix the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue, recur or even get worse with future digital device use and screen time.

 

Tips provided by the American Optometric Association for more comfortable computer use

Proper body positioning for computer use. Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to do with the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, the position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.

-Location of the computer screen. Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking 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 and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.

-Reference materials. These materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents, so the head does not need to be repositioned from the document to the screen.

-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.

-Anti-glare screens. If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.

-Seating position. Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so the feet rest flat on the floor. Arms should be adjusted to provide support while typing and wrists shouldn't rest on the keyboard when typing.

-Rest breaks. To prevent eyestrain, try to rest eyes when using the computer for long periods. Resting the eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow the eyes a chance to refocus.

-Blinking. To minimize the chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, try to remind yourself to take breaks and blink. Blinking keeps the front surface of the eye moist.

-Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with CVS.

 

Don’t suffer with glasses that are not meeting the new demands of your job. Glasses designed for distant vision, reading or both are not necessarily the most efficient vision for use with your computer. Come in today for an exam there are many new technologies and lens designs available specifically to prevent and help with Computer vision syndrome. During your exam based on your unique workstation set up we can customize a lens to best help prevent computer eye strain.

Author
Domenico Rinaldi, OD Dr. Rinaldi received a BA in Biology from Whittier College and went on to receive a doctorate in Optometry from the Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Rinaldi completed his rotations at Ocular disease intense sites, including several Local Veteran Hospitals (LA ambulatory and Long beach VAs), and has worked with Ophthalmology co-managements helping to diagnose Retinal detachments, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-Related Macular Degeneration, his studies and interest are in ocular health and vision preservation. Dr. Rinaldi strives to make every patient's experience fantastic. "Patient satisfaction and education is the most important aspect of my office visits, I believe it is important that my patients understand how their eyes function and walk away feeling empowered to protect the health/clarity of their vision."

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