Everything You Should Know About Computer Vision Syndrome

by on March 8th, 2011 0 comments

Working in the IT field, often I come across coworkers who have no eye problems but complain about headaches, fatigue, eye strain and dryness. What all of my coworkers have in common is- spending large amounts of time working on a computer. Sounds strange but computer related eye issues are recognized as “Computer Vision Syndrome” or CVS. In this era of technology, life without a computer is unimaginable for anyone. Some users occasionally just check their email, and others, such as myself whose lives and professions revolve around the use of a computer. Kids are often hooked on the fun of gaming online or offline and teens mostly are addicted to social networking and sharing. The IT industry is very large and everything under the sun is now computerized now. As much as they make our lives easier, computer usage, whether it be minimal or large can cause health problems.

While working on computer screens, our eyes and muscles undergo physical and physiological changes. The blink rate- a body mechanic used to keep our eyes properly wet is reduced dramatically reduced. It is like we are so engrossed in what we are reading or viewing on the screen we seem to forget to blink. This lack of blinking will cause the film from our tears on our eyes to crack and dry sooner. This induces burning and a gritty feeling that  eventually leads to swelling and redness. Because of the distance between our eyes and our computer screens is normally very small, our eyes make up by exerting extra effort to accommodate, this allows us to focus properly on the screen. Doing this for long periods of time without breaking does lead to fatigue, headaches, and eyestrain. Our eyes are not the only problem, the ergonomics of our workplace does  determine our posture and can lead to the onset of problems like back and neck pains. Uncomfortable chairs or a table that is low to the ground can cause slouching and bending, this affects the your backbones health over time. You may wonder why we can read for hours and ours with a book and never get tired, what is different about reading on a computer? The distance that we read a book is a lot less than the distance we put our computer monitor. Second is that the image on a monitor consists of many pixels, they are the brightest at the center and fade to the edges where the black color of the print offers a contrast of black and white,  our brains find this easier to read. The problems that come from the items we have mentioned above are all together given the term of “Computer Vision Syndrome”.

Computer Vision Syndrome is charted by eye-strain, blurring vision, dryness and burning in your eyes, increased light sensitivity, head, neck, shoulder, or back pain. Computer users face  a lot of these problems to a greater degree based on your frequency of use. Often times, these are symptoms are dismissed as being related to stress or sleep deprivation. CVS is not technically a disease, but it is a cause of concern, it is affecting more people daily. Discomfort in your eyes and the other symptoms related to CVS  impact an person’s performance and well-being, this then affects your efficiency at work.

Even though Computer Vision Syndrome gaining momentum rapidly, especially with the increased usage of the young and middle-aged, there are some methods that you can be employ to ensure the health of your eyes.

  • Ensure that your workspace is comfortable, if possible pick a chair that can support your spine properly and is adjusted properly to your height so your feet rest comfortably flat on the floor. Awkward height of the chair or the table can cause strain on the neck, backbone and eyes.
  • If your have a child that frequents a computer, be sure that computer time is limited to a couple of hours, too much eye muscle work during a child’s growth period can interfere in the normal development and growth in your kid’s vision.
  • Your monitor should be placed at a height that is lower than your face so your eyes are partially covered by your eyelids while reading and do not dry out too easily. Adjust the height level so the screen is at a level slightly lower than your eyes and that you sit upright and erect.
  • Time breaks regularly and in these intervals spend 10-15 minutes sitting with your eyes closed or that you focus on an object like a tree outside your window. Doing this process will help you stretch out your eye muscles and reduce the chance of strain. Use an alarm on your phone or a calendar reminder on your PC that notifies you to take a break every so often.
  • Do not place your monitor in a place where it will reflect too much light (such as near a window or a lamp). Use an anti-reflective coating on your screen to minimize glare. Researchers have shown that the symptoms of CVS can be significantly reduced in people that use anti-reflective coatings on their glasses.
  • Tilt your screen at a downward angle so it does not reflect light directly into your eyes. It is amazing how effective this simple idea turns out to be!
  • Another easy and helpful tip is to use reverse contrast on your screen. Having white letters on a black background reduces the glare from the screen to provide a better contrast. Adjust the font to a size that is comfortable and correctly leveled so you do not have to squint  your eyes while reading.
  • Keep some preservative free eye drops handy to use either at bed time or at your work-place.
  • For user that are above forty, or anyone with vision trouble, it is important that you wear the proper vision correction. Older users be sure to speak to your eye care professional about the demands of your jobs and ask for an intermediate distance correction along with your reading glasses. Special glasses for computer use are now available and can be custom made per your needs.

Computer Vision Syndrome is another addition to the list of ailments induced by your lifestyle, except the solution is pretty simple. Paying attention to details is worth the trouble, it promises better health, and eye comfort. Work on your computer for as long as you want to, but do take care to not stress yourself out. Little things do go far in maintaining the health of your eyes and back. Always keep your health in mind and at the front of your priorities!