What is Computer vision syndrome and how to reduce the effects? Eye and vision-related problems that are caused by prolonged use of digital devices such as computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones are known as computer vision syndrome (CVS). The number of people using digital devices and the amount of time they spend looking at digital screens has gone up all over the world. Working adults and children are equally affected by computer vision syndrome. It may affect older individuals too as senior citizens are becoming increasingly tech savvy nowadays. A large number of people experience discomfort when viewing digital screens for extended periods of time. The level of discomfort and vision problems appears to increase with the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen. Research shows that between 50% to 90% of people who work with computers have at least some of the following computer vision symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
These symptoms can intensify due to factors such as poor lighting, poor seating posture, improper viewing distance, glare on the digital screen, uncorrected vision problems, or a combination of the above. Digital screen time is significantly higher in all age groups nowadays and also starts at a far younger age. Most people in today’s world have jobs that require them to stare at computer screens for long hours. This can put a real strain to the eyes. Kids who use tablets or play video games on computers for long hours can also be affected.
When working at a computer, eyes tend to focus and refocus constantly. Our eyes move back and forth as we read. We may have to look down and then back up to type. The inner muscles of the eyes have to react to changing images on the screen so that the brain can process what we are seeing. All these jobs require a lot of effort from the eye muscles. And to make things worse, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare; unlike a book or piece of paper. This could lead to eye strain and fatigue.
Uncorrected vision problems such as far sightedness and astigmatism can lead to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen device. If you need glasses but don’t wear them, or if you wear the wrong prescription spectacles for computer use, you are likely to face more symptoms.
These simple practices can help reduce the effects of computer vision syndrome:
- Make sure there is adequate lighting in the room. Good lighting prevents from staring into the glare on the computer screen. A screen glare filter can decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
- Establish proper working distances. Position the digital display so that head is in a naturally comfortable position for screen viewing.
- Take breaks regularly to prevent eyestrain. A few minutes away from the computer can go a long way when it comes to eyes. Use the 20-20-20 rule. i.e. every 20 minutes take a 20 second break to look at least 20 feet away into the distance and relax your eyes.
- Make sure your seat is comfortable. A comfortable chair that conforms to the body encourages good posture and will help to avoid neck and shoulder strain commonly associated with computer vision syndrome.
- Regular spectacles or contact lenses may not be adequate for computer work. Special lens designs with tints or coatings that reduce the effects of extended computer viewing may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort.
- Blinking frequently can keep the front surface of the eye moist and minimizes the chances of developing dry eye when using a computer.
Dr. Bhujang Shetty
121/C , 1st ‘R’ Block, Chord Road
Bangalore – 560010
Ph: 91 8066121300-305