Computer Vision Syndrome – Effects on vision and our health

Computer Vision Syndrome – Effects on vision and our health

Posted under Living With Low Vision

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) can have detrimental effects on our daily vision as well as our everyday health. First, let’s define CVS. CVS is the result of someone spending hours looking at a digital screen whether it is a computer, cell phone, eBook reader, or iPad. It is too much constant near vision and not enough distance vision that puts a strain on our eyes. The Vision Council reports, ”About 80 percent of American adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day with nearly 67 percent using two or more devices simultaneously, and 59 percent report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.”

Common Symptoms of CVS

Some of the common eye symptoms associated with this syndrome include:

  • Eyes feel fatigued or strained
  • Vision is blurred and not sharp
  • Light sensitivity
  • Runny, watery, tearing of eyes
  • Burning, stinging of eyes
  • Dry eyes

But some symptoms of CVS are not vision related, such as

  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Upper back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Reduced attention span

Strategies to Combat CVS

Constant near vision that requires focusing for long periods of time puts a very real strain on the eyes. However, there are several strategies you can use to reduce the impact of computer eye strain and prevent CVS.

  • Take frequent breaks from close-up vision. Close and rest your eyes or look at objects in the distance. A common rule to follow is the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes looking at a screen, look away for 20 seconds and focus on something 20 feet away.
  • Wear blue light blocking glasses or apply blue light blocking filter on your screens
  • Limit Your Screen Time at Night – Stop screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime to prevent sleep problems
  • Remember to Blink – It’s common to have prolonged focus on your digital screen and forget to blink. Eyes get dry because they aren’t getting lubricated from frequent blinking. The University of Iowa Healthcare contributes some of the computer eye strain symptoms to reduced blink rate. “We actually blink 66% less while working on the computer.”
  • Reduce glare by adjusting blinds near windows and turn off overhead lighting
  • Position your monitor about 20”- 26” away or about an arm’s distance away from the screen for proper viewing distance.
  • Use your brightness and contrast settings to reduce eye strain and to decrease focusing demand
  • Clean your screen so it’s free of smudges, dirt and dust
  • Use a larger monitor and combine it with an increased font size for less eye strain
  • Use your break or lunch time to get outside and go for a walk

By being intentional and setting up timers and reminders to blink and to take a break from near vision tasks, you can support healthy vision and reduce your risk of developing CVS.

More Tips to Reduce Computer Vision Syndrome

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN