Computer Vision Syndrome

Anyone who spends more than a few hours at a computer each day needs to consult an optometrist for a thorough eye examination whether they are having difficulties or not. Computer users should describe their work center to the optometrist so he or she can make suggestions for correcting trouble spots that could be contributing to computer vision syndrome. The most common symptoms of CVS are eyestrain or eye fatigue, dry eyes, burning eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, double vision, headaches and pain in the shoulders, neck or back.

These problems can be caused from insufficient tear flow to the eyes and/or too much glare and reflection on the monitor. When looking at a computer screen we tend to blink 2/3 less than we normally do which causes the eyes to become dried out and irritated. Attaching a glare filter to the screen will reduce the amount of light reflected but not necessarily solve the problem because they only affect glare from the computer screen and not the problems related to the constant refocusing our eyes endure while working at a computer.

Ways to reduce eyestrain are:

1. Using proper lighting by eliminating light reflections to the computer screen.

2. Take a 10 minute break every hour.

3. Look away from the computer screen every 10-15 minutes and focus on a distant object.

4. Blink more often.

5. Adjust the workstation. Place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor to avoid looking back and forth. Adjust your screen so that it is 4-9 inches below eye-level, and 20-26 inches from your eyes. Adjust the chair to the correct height.

6. Match the brightness of the environment to that of the computer screen. The contrast between the background and on-screen characters should be high.

7. Have Anti-Reflective coating applied to your glasses to help prevent glare and reflections on the back side of your lenses from reaching your eyes.

8. Use lubricating eye drops or tear replacement for dry or itchy eyes.

Solutions to computer vision problems are varied depending on the person’s needs. The optometrist may prescribe single-vision, multifocal or special computer glasses for some people. Contact lenses might be an option for others. Several lenses are made specifically for computer users. Most are no-line multifocals with a wide area for viewing the computer in the upper portion of the lens, and an area for close work, like looking at the keyboard, in the lower portion. They don’t correct distance vision as well as lenses for general wear and, therefore, are limited to use at the computer. Standard reading glasses in most cases are not enough because eyes react differently to the stimulus of a computer.

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