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Understanding Computer Vision Syndrome

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Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain is associated with a number of vision and eye-related problems. It results from prolonged computer, tablet or cell phone use. Many people experience eye problems and vision discomfort after extended use of digital screens which appear to increase with time and usage.

An average worker sits for seven hours a day in front of a computer, on average. This is excluding the time he gives to digital screens at home, i.e. phone or TV. Try the 20-20-20 rule to relieve digital eye strain. This means that while using the computer or your phone, take a 20-second break after every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away.


The most common symptoms of Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dry eyes

Factors and Causes

These symptoms can worsen due to other factors including:

  • Viewing distances
  • Seating posture
  • Uncorrected vision problems
  • Poor lighting
  • Glare on a digital screen
  • A combination of these factors

Here are a few ways to alleviate the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.

Change Lighting Conditions

It is always helpful to change the lighting around you to reduce the strain your eyes have to endure due to poor light. It also minimizes the glaring effect of computer and mobile screens. If you are at work, make sure you are seated in a well-lit room. If light from a window casts a glare, close the shades or move your screen.  Some workplaces have installed a dimmer switch for overhead fixtures if they are too bright. Adding a glare filter to your monitor also helps relieve your eyes.

Rearrange Your Work Desk

Many of us still don’t know what the best position for keeping our screen is. Ideally, your screen should be at eye level, around 20 to 28 inches away from the face and you shouldn’t strain your eyes or stretch your neck to view the computer screen. Place any printed materials you need to work from on a stand next to the monitor and you won’t have juggle between looking up and down while working.

Take a Break

If your eyes feel continuously dry, ask your doctor to prescribe some eye drops to use even when you are at work. Give your eyes frequent breaks by following the 20-20-20 rule and blink often to keep your eyes moist.

Tweak Your Monitor settings

The brightness and contrast controls are there for a reason. Tweak your monitor settings and set levels that you are most comfortable with. Adjust the contrast, brightness and font size until you know what’s best for you.

Visit Your Optometrist Regularly

Visit your eye doctor regularly and keep all prescriptions up to date. Your eyes may be relieved by wearing glasses or contact lenses. A professional optometrist will let you know what can work best for you to relieve the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. Make sure you cut down screen time and never use computers or phones in the absence of sufficient light.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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