In today’s high tech world, many of us spend several hours per day or week using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Roughly three quarters of all careers involve the use of computers. With video games and the Internet, an increasing number of adults and children are using the computer for entertainment purposes as well. With this amount of exposure to computers, computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a recognized phenomenon of many patients.
The symptoms of CVS include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry or irritated eyes, double vision, excessive squinting, watery eyes, and eye pain. It has been estimated that roughly 80% of the population spend more than 2 hours per day using a computer. With this amount of visual strain, it is not surprising that there has been an increase in symptoms related to computer vision syndrome.
What can be done to treat CVS? The first step is to have a complete ocular-visual examination with your optometrist. Your optometrist can determine if prescription eye glasses are required to help with the symptoms. Contact lens wearers need to have clean, well-fitted, and hydrated contact lenses to alleviate CVS symptoms. As well the contact lens prescription needs to be accurate.
For bifocal users, progressive or no-line bifocals work best for computer use. There are new customized progressive lenses available now that allow a larger field of view when looking at a monitor. Traditional lined bifocals create difficulties at the computer since the user needs to lift their head to look thru the bifocal segment. This could lead to increased neck, upper back, and shoulder strain.
There are also specific lenses made for computer use. These lenses have a yellow to slightly brown tint that helps reduce the blue reflective light from the computer screen that can cause strain.
There are several things you can do yourself to treat CVS. First of all, your computer monitor should be positioned roughly two or three inches below your horizontal line of sight. Therefore, you should be able to see just above the top of your monitor. Placing the monitor too high creates unnecessary eye and neck strain.
Secondly, sit at a distance just far enough away from the monitor so that you can barely touch the monitor without leaning forward.
Thirdly, make sure you remember to blink. This may sound trivial but studies have shown that our blink rate reduces to roughly one-third of the normal blink rate while we are on the computer. We hydrate our eyes by blinking. Therefore a reduction in the blink rate will dry the eyes out leading to increased eye strain.
Finally, follow the rule of 20’s. More specifically, every twenty minutes, take a twenty second break by looking twenty feet away.
Increasing the contrast on your monitor and reducing the overall room lighting can minimize the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
If your computer is near an outside window, the reflections from the window can increase computer glare. Positioning the monitor away from a window may help as well.
Remember that if you suffer from any of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, something can be done. If you have attempted the above techniques to improve CVS and symptoms remain, it is best to make an appointment with your optometrist to discuss other aids that can be used to help.