You may have heard of Computer Vision Syndrome, sometimes called CVS. But you are wondering if this is a real syndrome, even with everyone these days using computers, smartphones and tablets. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute would like to help you learn more about whether this is a real condition or – just an urban myth.
If you are on a computer all day, every day and then a smartphone later in the day, you will certainly want to know more about it. According to Web MD, between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen may experience at least some of the symptoms. You may have experienced some of the common symptoms but did not know that this syndrome actually had a name. Following is some information that might be helpful when it comes to your eyes.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
According to the American Optometric Association, this condition is also called Digital Eye Strain. It involves discomfort, which could include burning of the eyes, due to prolonged use of digital screens over a period of time. With the average office worker using the computer for seven hours per day, either in the office or at home, this problem has increased to become more widespread. Employers, as well as employees, are now learning more about it and ways to avoid it in the workplace.
If it is indeed real, then what are the common symptoms of CVS?
Symptoms you could experience include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
- Shoulder and neck pain
There are several reasons why these symptoms appear. They can be caused by:
- Glare from a digital screen
- Poor lighting
- Viewing at the wrong distance
- Bad seating posture
- Visions problems that are uncorrected
- Combination of the above factors
The severity of the symptoms depends on your vision and the time you spend looking at the screen. If you have astigmatism or are farsighted, these may contribute to CVS. That is why it is important to have regular eye exams. Other problems that could cause this syndrome include:
- Aging changes
- Eye coordination problems
With the fact that many of visual symptoms are of a temporary nature if computer work is stopped, it has also been shown that some people continue to have visual abilities that are reduced. Blurred distance vision and reduced visual perception may occur. If there are no steps taken to alleviate the problem, it could reoccur and even get worse.
Causes of this Syndrome
It is unlike reading a book, where paper pages are the means of information, as the viewing of a screen is known to make the eyes work harder. Because of this, the high demand of viewing screens makes people more susceptible to problems that are vision-related.
The level of contrast on a screen might not be as strong as that of a printed page, causing the eyes to work harder. Additionally, glare and reflections that fall on a screen may make viewing even more difficult. You may be viewing the material from an angle, which is quite different from reading a book.
Because viewing differences and angles may be different, the focusing of the eye and eye movements may add even more demands to the eyes of the viewer.
The University of Iowa’s Christine W. Sindt, OD, FAAO has suggested some ways that you can reduce the effects of CVS.
Decreased Blinking – One of the ways that our eyes begin to burn is due to the decreased rate of blinking. The simple solution is to blink your eyes more when staring at the screen. By taking a vision rest, you are letting your eyes renew. Additionally, you might use lubricating drops to enhance the moisture of your eyes.
Glare and Screen Reflections – Monitor reflections tend to tire your eyes. Posture may suffer as well as you try to avoid the glare. Some steps to take include:
- Re-positioning the monitor so there are no windows to the front or behind
- Add or adjust window blinds
- Change light bulbs to full spectrum
- Add a task lamp to shine just on the paper
- Use a filter for glare
- Adjust other sources of reflected light
Monitor Problems – With the refresh rate of some monitors at 60 Hz, the eyes tend to get tired. You should also think about the size and color of your letter fonts and the brightness of your screen as well as the size of the monitor. Some solutions include:
- Reset refresh rate to 75 to 80 Hz
- Get a larger monitor
- Increase font size
- Flat screens produce less glare
- Control brightness and contrast
- Keep your screen clean and free of smudges and dust
If your desk is not set up well, you can experience pain due to injury that is repetitive, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, but related to the eyes. People over 40 have decreased focusing ability and often rely on bifocal lenses. Steps to take include:
- Adjust the height of your monitor
- Position your monitor 20 to 26 inches away or make sure that your glasses are focused at the correct distance for working
- Computer glasses can be considered. They can be worn over contact lenses or just over your eyes.
Now you know the reality is that CVS is a real problem and not a myth, in these times of heavy computer and smartphone use. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute can help you learn more about the health of your eyes and possibly prevent CVS symptoms. You may be at risk for developing Presbyopia, the ability to clearly see objects that are close as well as small print; this is common as we get older. For this reason, you should be getting eye exams to ensure that you see your best.
More About Us
Located in the Tampa Bay area, Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute has been providing quality world-class eye care since 1981. We work to examine, improve, and retain your sight with the latest technologies and the best physicians and employees. Personal service is the mark of our care, and at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute we treat our patients as part of our family.
We have clinics that are conveniently located throughout the Tampa area, so coming in for an exam is easy. Just give us a call to schedule an appointment.
Not all tips will work for everyone. Advice in this article should not replace in-person medical treatment. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you see and feel better, call Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute