Do You Have Computer Vision Syndrome?

Woman's Eye

In the wake of the current pandemic, more of us are on-line for longer periods than ever before.  This includes for work, assisting children with on-line learning and even more on-line shopping.  This extra time spent in front of our screens is resulting in eye and vision-related health issues for some of us.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) defines Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) as, “a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.”

Symptoms you might be experiencing as a result of prolonged on-line activity are:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye twitching
  • Red eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Neck, back, and/or shoulder pain.

Any of these symptoms could indicate you are suffering from CVS.

Here are 10 tips from the experts:

  1. Get an eye exam and let the eye doctor know how long you spend in front of a screen each day.
  2. Use proper lighting. Lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices.  Exterior lighting can be controlled with curtains, blinds and positioning your computer screen so that any windows are to the side rather than in front or behind. For interior lighting, using fewer lights or less intensity ones will help.
  3. Minimize glare. Anti-glare screens are available for displays.  If you wear glasses, lenses with an anti-reflective (AR) coating will reduce glare.
  4. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your computer monitor. If so, choose a screen with the highest resolution possible, to get sharper images.  For a desktop computer, a 19-inch monitor should be the minimum size.
  5. Adjust your computer display settings, including brightness, text size and contrast. The brightness should be about the same as that of your surroundings.  Text size and contrast should be what you find comfortable. Typically, black print on a white background is best.Another adjustment you could make has to do with the colour temperature.  Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that can cause more eye strain than longer wavelength colours such as orange and red.  By reducing the colour temperature, you lower the amount of blue light emitted for better viewing comfort.
  1. Constantly focusing on your screen for long periods is another cause of computer eye strain. Try what some eye doctors call the “20-20-20 rule”. That is to look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps relax the focusing muscle inside your eye.
  2. Another exercise, which should be done 10 times, is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then at something close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. This will reduce the risk of your eyes’ focusing ability to “lock up”.
  3. Frequent breaks from your computer will help reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome as well as neck, back and shoulder pain. It is suggested that a 10-minute break every hour would be ideal. Stand up, move around and do body stretches to reduce tension and tired muscles.
  4. Make adjustments to your work area. If your chair doesn’t allow your feet to rest comfortably on the floor, adjust its height.  Your computer screen should be 20 to 24 inches from your eyes and the centre of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes.  These adjustments will help improve your posture with a more comfortable positioning of your head and neck.
  5. Customized computer glasses may be right for you. These could prove to be more comfortable than contact lenses during extended screen time.  They may also be more optimal than bifocals or progressive lenses for the distance to your computer screen.  Tinted lenses can reduce exposure to blue light.   Your eye doctor can advise what’s best for you.