In today’s rapidly technologized world, spending eight or more hours at a desk staring at a computer screen is becoming more common. Prolonged computer use, especially in poor lighting with dim screens, can produce computer vision syndrome (CVS): a group of eye and vision-related problems that can create lasting, damaging effects
What are the symptoms?
If you are someone who spends considerable amounts of time in front of a computer screen, you should watch out for these telltale symptoms:
- Headaches, including slight throbbing in the temples
- Eyestrain of any kind
- Itchy, red or dry eyes
- Vision that is blurred or hazy
- Chronic neck and shoulder pain
- Vision problems that persist even after you have moved away from the screen
- Or some combination of any or all of these factors
Why does this happen?
These negative symptoms occur for a variety of reasons. Generally, our eyes are not designed for extended amounts of time in front of computer screens. Staring at a source of light for too long makes eyes work harder. As a result, this high-visual demand makes otherwise healthy individuals susceptible to the vision-related problems.
Certain factors in your working environment can exacerbate or increase your chances of developing an issue. CVS is typically caused by:
- A bright glare on the computer screen
- Poor lighting where you are working
- Viewing the screen too close or too far away
- Bad posture
- Other vision problems such as near or far-sightedness, astigmatism, natural eye aging (presbyopia) and other complications
- Or some combination of any of all of these factors
These symptoms can be experienced in lesser or greater severity depending on the duration of your time in front of a computer screen and the extent to which the contributing factors are less or worse than usual.
What can I do to prevent this?
If you must spend more than a few hours every day working with a computer, there are ways to decrease your chances of developing a vision-related problem. Take steps to adjust the lighting in the room so that it is neither too bright or too dim. Adjust your computer’s monitor so that it is not producing a bright glare as you work. Conversely, don’t make it so dim that you are straining to see the screen. Make sure your computer screen is at least two feet from your eyes but not much farther away, as greater distance can be just as harmful as working in too close of a proximity. Posture is also important as it maintains the proper distance and amount of comfort needed to reduce eye strain and back and shoulder aches.
If you are concerned, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
CVS can be properly diagnosed by a licensed optometrist through a comprehensive eye exam. The doctor will record any symptoms you may be experiencing, consult your health history, take visual acuity measurements, see how eyes focus and move or work together and check the eyes themselves for any signs of astigmatism or other complications. As a general rule, always remember to take plenty of breaks as you work and never hesitate to contact your local eye doctor for a consultation regarding any concerns you have about CVS.