Anyone who works at a computer all day knows that it can be bad for our health. We’ve known for years that staring at a screen all day can cause a host of problems, but have you ever stopped to think about what those problems are?
Computer vision syndrome is a well-documented condition that can cause mild discomfort and sometimes serious pain. Up to 70 million workers globally are at risk of suffering from the condition, according to a report published in Medical Practice and Reviews, and that number is expected to continue growing.
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome is defined mostly by the strain put on the eyes. Using a computer or any other digital screen for hours every day can cause the eyes to strain and create a feeling of discomfort and pain.
It’s a condition experienced by many without even realizing it, owing to the nature of modern work. Whether you’re an administrative assistant or receptionist, a lawyer or a politician, your job likely involves looking at data, emails and much more on digital screens for hours every day.
The condition can manifest itself in other ways than just eye pain and strain, it can sometimes be quite severe, but there are ways for it to be avoided and relieved.
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
So, what causes computer vision syndrome? It’s predominantly looking at computers all day!
Studies suggest that the use of a computer screen or other digital screens like televisions or phones, when used up-close for three hours every day, is likely to cause back problems and eye strain. CVS causes primarily take the form of using modern computer technology and staring at flat screens for too long.
Interestingly, the same effect can’t be shown by reading books for too long, and the answer is in the way screen technology words. Unlike images and text printed on a page, which have sharp edges, most modern screens have pixelated and jagged edges. Images may be blurred, and applications move around the screen and make it difficult for the eyes to focus.
As screen technology gets better this effect is reduced, but while most of the world uses older screens, which are computer vision syndrome causes, the condition is expected to remain widespread.
Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms
Computer vision syndrome symptoms vary but are fairly easy to recognize and diagnose.
The most common symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Difficulty focusing
- Neck and shoulder pain
Someone suffering from computer vision syndrome will exhibit at least one of those symptoms, and as the issue gets worse, will likely move on to experience more of them.
Computer Vision Syndrome Prevention
Computer vision syndrome prevention is the best way to combat the condition. You can prevent it by ensuring that you sit properly at your desk, you use anti-glare screens where possible, and you adjust the lighting in your room.
Sitting at your desk, your eyes should be between 40 and 75cm away from the screen. Your feet should be rested in front of you, your thighs parallel to the floor, and your back straight and supported. Your screen should be between 15 and 20 degrees below eye level too.
Lighting in your office space should be dim, and natural lighting is always best. Anti-glare screens decrease the amount of reflection your eyes see, and your seat should be comfortable and supportive.
Remember to take lots of breaks from looking at the screen, every 15 minutes after using a computer for two hours. You should also try and look at something far away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of screen time.
Using over-the-counter artificial tears can help keep images sharp and improve dryness issues that can be related to looking at screens for long periods of time.
Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosis
Diagnosis from an eye doctor can determine whether you have mild or severe computer vision syndrome. It’s a fairly simple process that involves first examining your symptoms.
Computer vision syndrome diagnosis also takes into account your medical history, any medications you take, and the environmental factors that can trigger conditions like computer vision syndrome.
Visual acuity measurements will be taken to see how badly affected your vision is, and an eye specialist will test how the eyes work.
Your ability to obtain a clear image of something in front of you will be tested, and any impairments may suggest that you are suffering from CVS.
Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment
The best way to tackle this condition is through prevention, but computer vision syndrome treatment can also be deployed to help people who are already suffering. Treatment initially takes the form of advising you how to change your environmental factors, but a change to your eyeglass prescription may also be required.
A change of lenses may help, too. Eyeglasses with anti-glare coatings make looking at screens all day much easier on the eyes. If you don’t already have an eyeglasses prescription, that may also change!
Is computer vision syndrome permanent?
No, this condition is not permanent but does require a change in computer habits to ensure it doesn’t come back.
How common is computer vision syndrome?
Millions of people across the United States already experience eye strain from computer use, and as many as 70 million people globally are also at risk.
Take Care of Your Eye Health
If you’re experiencing eye strain or computer vision syndrome symptoms, don’t ignore it. Visit us at the Kraff Eye Institute, learn how you can improve your vision and arrange regular check-ups to keep your eyes in great health.
You can call us today on (312) 444-1111 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled doctors.