Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain is a real syndrome that occurs due to extended digital screen use.
Computer use in modern times is prevalent in all aspects of life. Having to stare at your computer screen for several hours a day has become part and parcel of daily work-life for many of us. This however, can effect a great deal of strain on your eyes, neck and shoulder.
Vision problems due to excessive computer use are categorised as computer vision syndrome (CVS). This does not refer to one specific condition, but instead a plethora of conditions that cause eye strain and discomfort. Studies have shown that approximately 50% to 90% of persons who use a computer screen for work exhibit some form symptoms of CVS.
This condition is not exclusive only to working adults. Children are also at risk as with increasing use of tablets or computers in their daily lives for education or entertainment become more commonplace. This is especially so if posture and lighting conditions are less than optimal.
How Do Computers Affect Our Vision?
Computer Vision Syndrome can be likened to carpal tunnel syndrome for the eyes. Repetitive motions can cause injury over extended periods of time. This happens because your eyes are forced to continuously perform the same set of actions over and over. The longer a person persists with the same set of actions, the more likely for the injury due to repetitive motion is to worsen.
When using a computer, your eyes have to repeatedly focus on different parts of the screen. Back and forth movements are repeated as you read or study different portions of the screen, or interact with the notes and tools placed nearby your workstation. To properly focus and send the appropriate signals to your brain requires substantial effort from the eye muscles that control the eye. To make things worse, we tend to blink less frequently when our attention is directed on the computer screen. This leads to the eyes drying out, causing blurry vision.
For those with pre-existing eye conditions, remember to control and manage the use of computers and other digital surfaces. They are far more likely to develop computer vision syndrome, especially if they do not manage their current conditions well. For example, if you are myopic but frequently go without wearing your glasses, this can cause strain on the eye during extended periods of computer use and increase the likelihood of developing computer vision syndrome.
As we age, the natural lenses in our eyes lose flexibility. You’ll notice that many people will start complaining of bad vision as their eyes start of lose the ability to focus on near and far objects. Eye specialists refer to this condition as presbyopia.
What Are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?
Regular and extended use of computer screens are known to cause strain due to massive amounts of repetitive motion and bad habits such as decreased blinking leading to reduced eye lubrication. Symptoms you may notice:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye irritation
- Eye redness
- Eye strain headache and/or browache
- Neck or back pain
These are signs of fatigue and onset of computer vision syndrome. If you continue to persist at the current activity, work performance is likely to be affected.
Apart from the effects on our eyes, bad posture habits while using the computer can also lead to neck and shoulder pain
Computer vision syndrome is usually a result of a combination of factors including poor lighting, glare of the digital screen, poor posture and improper viewing distance. In addition, when we concentrate on the digital screen, we tend to blink less often and this exacerbates eye dryness which further leads to digital eye strain and eye pain.
It is difficult to avoid digital screen time in totality due to the requirements of modern day work life and entertainment habits. However, we can take measures to better care for our eyes and prevent computer vision syndrome (CVS) by:
- Placing the screen at an adequate distance (more than an arm’s length) away from your eyes
- Placing the screen below your eye level
- Good seating posture
- Good lighting
- Anti-glare screens
- Frequent rest breaks
- Conscientious blinking
- 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes of computer use, look away from the screen and focus on an object further than 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.