What is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?

In this technologically-heavy age, we all know the feeling of closing the laptop or phone at the end of a long day and sighing in relief. It’s common to stretch your neck and shoulders after sitting for a prolonged amount of time, but sitting in front of a computer affects more than just your muscles…it can also affect your eyes. If you use a computer regularly, you may be part of the 75% of users who suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Here at Medical Eye Center, we commonly see patients for the collective group of symptoms associated with CVS, and here are the things you need to know:

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Sometimes known as digital eye strain, Computer Vision Syndrome is the term for a group of vision-related problems that stem from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone use. It’s most common among office workers, students, or people who spend many hours working on a computer. Some of the more prevalent symptoms include:

  • Eye irritation (dryness, itching, redness)
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Aching back
  • Neck aching
  • Muscle fatigue

It’s important to note that CVS does not cause permanent damage to the eyes, but the painful symptoms can impact work and home life. The degree or severity of symptoms usually depends on how much screen time the patient utilizes. Patients with uncorrected problems like farsightedness or astigmatism, aging patients, or poor eye coordination can experience greater levels of symptoms. Many of the visual issues that patients experience is temporary and will cease when the computer or screen work is stopped, but sometimes blurry vision continues even after the screens are off. If the root symptoms are not addressed, symptoms will continue and can even worsen with time.

How can I reduce symptoms of CVS?

Preventing or reducing vision problems related to digital eyestrain involves proactive steps and some lifestyle changes. Thankfully, many of these changes are doable and simple. Here are some actionable steps you can take to reduce your symptoms at work, school, or home:

Be sure you’re wearing the proper glasses prescription: If you wear eyeglasses for distant vision, reading, or both, those glasses might not be suitable for viewing a screen that is about 20-30” away from your eyes. Telling your eyecare provider about what you will be using your glasses for is the best way to ensure you have the right prescription
for the job.

Minimize blue light and harsh glare: Blue light and fluorescent lighting can negatively affect your vision and can impact your CVS symptoms. Using lens tints or coatings can reduce the amount of blue light that your eyes are taking in. Additionally, a glare reduction shield and repositioning the screen can help keep your vision from being strained.

Take breaks throughout the day: While much of your work may require you to be in front of a screen, it’s essential to take breaks to do other types of work, such as phone calls, administrative tasks, or anything else that doesn’t require you to focus on a screen. When reading, you can also place reference materials about the same distance away from you as your computer screen. This helps the eyes adjust more easily and not have to re-focus as often. It is also helpful to utilize the 20-20-20 rule, which means that every 20 minutes, you shift your eyes to something 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

Reduce drafts and dust:
One of the primary concerns of patients with CVS is eye dryness. Looking at the root cause of eye dryness can be helpful, including drafts, dust, and dry air in your workspace. Try to adjust your air vents and fans away from your eyes and consider adding a mini humidifier if possible. Dust accumulated on the screen can irritate the eyes and make it harder for your eyes to focus (causing eye strain). Regularly cleaning both your glasses and your monitor can be a great help. If you are experiencing dry eyes and suspect it may be more than just CVS, you can refer to our Dry Eye help center for more information on this impactful condition.

How do I know if I have Computer Vision Syndrome or digital eye strain?

At Medical Eye Center, we see many patients who experience these symptoms, and we help guide them to solutions that increase their comfort levels in this digital age. If you think you may have CVS, please contact us so we can begin finding the right treatments and solutions for you.