In this digital age, many of us spend a lot of our time in front of screens. Whether we’re working hard or hardly working, our eyes are working harder to view these screens, putting us at risk of developing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). also known as digital eye strain, this is a relatively new condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
In recognition of Healthy Vision Month(opens in a new tab), we’ll be talking about what causes Computer Vision Syndrome, its symptoms, how to prevent it, and how it can be treated. If you spend a lot of time in front of screens, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and take steps to prevent or address them. With a little bit of effort, you can reduce your risk of developing CVS and keep your eyes healthy.
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
CVS is caused by the way our eyes process information from digital devices. People who spend two or more consecutive hours every day are at the greatest risk of developing CVS because when looking at screens, people tend to:
- Blink less often, causing the eyes to become dry and irritated.
- Use devices that have glare on the screen, causing the eyes to constantly adjust between light and dark areas.
- View screens at an improper distance or angle, most often too close, causing the eye muscles to work harder to focus.
In addition to these habits, another contributing factor to CVS is blue light. Blue light is a high-energy, short-wavelength form of light that is emitted by most digital screens. Exposure to blue light is not always harmful, but it can strain the eyes.
A person with CVS may experience:
- Eye fatigue
- Eye irritation
- Dry eyes
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
It’s worth noting that CVS likely does not cause permanent eye damage. However, the side effects of staring at a computer screen for too long can be very disruptive to a person’s quality of life. For that reason, taking steps to prevent or address CVS is very important.
How Can I Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome?
There are several strategies you can employ to prevent yourself from developing CVS, starting with adjusting your devices. Increasing font sizes or zooming can reduce the amount of strain on your eyes, as can increasing your screen’s contrast. You may also find it helpful to add an anti-glare screen cover.
Adjusting the rest of your workspace can help, as well. If you’re still using an older CRT monitor, it’s time to upgrade to a flat panel LED monitor, which can help eliminate eye strain caused by the way a CRT monitor flickers. Your desk chair may need an update, as well; make sure you have a good quality office chair with proper back support. Also, try to reduce ambient light to eliminate glare. This might mean closing curtains or shades or dimming the lights.
It’s also important to take breaks from your screen. The 20-20-20 rule is a great way to do this; every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something at least 20 feet away. This gives your eyes the chance to rest and refocus, reducing your risk of developing CVS.
What Can I Do About My Computer Vision Syndrome?
If you’re already experiencing symptoms and looking to cure your Computer Vision Syndrome, there are a few things you can do to ease your discomfort. First, employ the 20-20-20 rule to regularly give your eyes a break, and if needed, use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes and reduce dryness and irritation. You may also find it helpful to use a warm compress on your eyes for a few minutes at a time.
In addition, adjusting your workspace and devices as we mentioned above can help reduce symptoms. If you work long hours in front of a screen, consider investing in glasses that have a coating on them to help filter out blue light and reduce eye fatigue, commonly referred to as blue light glasses.
If you’re still experiencing symptoms, contact the experts at Everett & Hurite. We can help you determine if there is an underlying condition causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you find relief. Schedule online or call us at (412) 288-0858 to make an appointment at one of our 10 locations.