Computer Vision Syndrome

While computers are terrific and incredibly useful pieces of technology, there are a multitude of problems that can arise from their use. Computer Vision Syndrome describes a group of symptoms or vision related problems that result from the use prolonged use of the computer. The level and severity of the symptoms is directly linked the increased time spent on the computer and tend to increase after 2 hours of continuous use.

Common Symptoms of Described by Patients Include:
• Headaches
• Eye strain
• Blurry vision
• Fluctuating vision
Dry eyes
• Neck pain
• Shoulder pain
• Double vision

It is important to note that looking at a computer screen is NOT the same as looking at printed words on a page. The pixels of the computer screen lead to a reading environment where the letters and images are not as clearly defined, the contrast level is not as adequate and the glare and reflections from the screen all come together to make viewing difficult and lead to the plethora of problems with prolonged computer viewing. In addition, the presence of even very minor vision problems like small uncorrected prescription or mild alignment or focusing problems can severely exacerbate the problem.

Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome

There is a two prong approach to helping the millions of American afflicted by vision problems associated with computer use. First, it is necessary that visual prescription, eye alignment, and focusing problems be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses. Additionally, it is recommended that patients with problems associated with computer opt for anti-reflective coating on their next pair of prescription glasses. This coat dramatically cuts down on computer related glare and it very helpful with alleviating eye strain associated with computer vision syndrome. The second approach to helping this condition is to reassess the environment in which the computer is used. It is optimal for the computer screen to sit 15-20 degrees below eye level (4-5 inches below). Additionally, the computer should be positioned to minimize glare from open windows and especially overhead lights. If computer repositioning is not an option; there are very good aftermarket anti-glare screens that can help. Finally, take frequent rests or time away from the computer. It is recommended that computer users should look away from the screen for 15 minutes for every 2 hours of use.

An easy rule to remember that helps most types of computer vision syndrome problems is the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of computer use, look out at a distance of 20 feet or more for 20 seconds. This will allow the eyes to relax and decrease the strain associated with sustained computer sessions.

For more information on Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS):