Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome

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Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a group of eye problems. The problems can include eyes that itch and tear and are dry and red. Your eyes may feel tired. You may not be able to focus well. With CVS these problems are the result of a lot of computer use. Use of e-readers and smart phones may also cause these problems. CVS is very common. Both children and adults can have symptoms of CVS.

What causes computer vision syndrome?

Reading text on a screen is more difficult for the eyes than reading printed text. This is why working on a computer can cause eye problems, while reading a book may not. People also tend to blink less when using a computer than when reading printed text. This can cause dry eyes, which can also contribute to computer vision syndrome.

Many factors can lead to computer vision syndrome, such as:

  • Spending several hours a day at the computer

  • Vision problems (even minor ones) not corrected with lenses

  • Wearing glasses not suitable for viewing your computer screen

  • Poor posture while using the computer

  • Poor lighting

  • Glare from the computer screen

  • Sitting too close to the screen

  • Positioning the screen at a wrong angle

  • Not taking breaks while you are working

  • Using an older-style monitor instead of a flat-screen monitor

Dry eye and CVS

Dry eye is a condition where you don’t make enough tears to wet the eye. If you have dry eye, this can make CVS worse or more likely. Dry eye is more common in women, and with age. Some medicines and health problems make dry eye more likely. For example, using antihistamines may lead to dry eye. Thyroid disease and some autoimmune diseases may also lead to dry eye.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome

Computer vision syndrome can cause symptoms such as:

  • Tired eyes

  • Eye discomfort

  • Dry eye

  • Red eyes

  • Eye tearing

  • Itchy eyes

  • Blurred vision

  • Double vision

  • Headaches

Most of these symptoms last a short time, and lessen or go away when you stop using your computer. In some cases, symptoms may last for a longer time after using a computer.

Symptoms may be mild to severe. This depends on how long you use the computer and other eye problems you may have. Symptoms can get worse without treatment.

Computer use can also lead to neck and shoulder pain. This is often because you may have poor posture when using your computer. Some health care providers also consider these symptoms of CVS.

Diagnosing computer vision syndrome

An eye care health provider diagnoses CVS. He or she will ask about your symptoms and your medical history. You’ll be given an eye exam. You may have tests to check the sharpness of your vision and how well your eyes focus and work together. Eye drops may be used to dilate your irises. This is to help the doctor see into your eye. He or she may use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of your eye. You may also have blood tests. These are to check for health care problems that can cause dry eye and lead to CVS.

Treatment for computer vision syndrome

Treatment is done by making changes in your use of your computer screen. Changes may include:

  • Resting your eyes at least 15 minutes after each 2 hours of computer use

  • Looking away from the computer and into the distance for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes

  • Enlarging the text on your computer screen

  • Reducing glare from nearby light sources

  • Using a screen glare filter

  • Using a flat-screen monitor

  • Positioning your screen so that the center is 4 to 5 inches below your eye level

  • Positioning your screen so that it is 20 to 28 inches from your eye

  • Remember to blink often

Your health care provider will also treat any health problems that can cause dry eye and CVS, such as allergies or thyroid disease. You may need to take steps to reduce dry eye. This may include:

  • Wearing lenses to correct your vision

  • Using lubricating eye drops

  • Using a humidifier

  • Drinking plenty of water

  • Taking a prescription medicine to increase tear production

Preventing computer vision syndrome

Take steps to create make changes in how you use your computer. See your eye care doctor once a year for a checkup. See your health care provider to help manage health conditions that can lead to CVS.