Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
Particularly if you work in an office job, it becomes increasingly normal to spend in excess of 30 hours per week looking at a computer screen (and that’s just at work!). If that sounds like you, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced at least a couple of symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) at some point.
Particularly after long periods in lockdown where people are having to work from home, we’re starting to see this more and more. Let’s take a look at what CVS, also known as Digital Eye Strain, is and what you can do about it.
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome/Digital Eye Strain is essentially an umbrella term that covers eye problems caused by computer use. Research suggests that if you work an office job where most of your day is spent looking at a computer, there’s at least a 50% chance you’ll have some symptoms of CVS.
To add to this, children can also be affected. Depending on their school environment, they can spend long periods looking at a computer screen at school. Then, they return home and begin their online homework before they settle in for some TV or PlayStation time or pick up the iPad.
Whatever your age or the type of screen(s) you use, we’re all susceptible after enough sustained screen time.
Why computer screens are bad for our eyes
Our eyes just weren’t built for spending periods of time looking at detailed images at the exact same distance from our face. Whether we’re reading documents, typing out an email or watching YouTube, our eyes are having to work hard, essentially performing the same task over and over again for hours at a time.
If you already have uncorrected vision problems or are wearing the wrong prescription, this can make problems even worse. Your eyes then have that added challenge on top of everything else.
What are the common symptoms of CVS?
The symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome are varied but all relate back to that same type of eye strain we’ve just covered.
CVS symptoms can include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry eye
- Eye discomfort
- Eye fatigue
- Eye itching
- Eye redness
- Eye tearing
- Neck and shoulder pain
Do any of these sound familiar to you after a long day in the office? If so, don’t panic just yet. The good news is, these symptoms are usually temporary and will be resolved after a brief break from staring at that screen.
Remember, if you’re going for a walk to give your eyes a break, don’t pick up your phone and start scrolling social media!
The severity of these symptoms will vary based on just how much strain you’ve put your eyes through during the day. The major factors that will influence this include:
- The amount of time you’ve spent looking at a screen(s) today
- How healthy your vision is in general
- The lighting in the room
- How bright your screen is
- Whether you’ve just been staring at the screen or you’ve had other things to switch focus to throughout the day (e.g. paperwork on your desk or walking around the office)
If you’ve been having symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, the best thing to do is talk to an optometrist. They can give you a simple eye exam to see if there are any underlying problems that might be causing those symptoms or making CVS worse.
During the eye exam, they can test how sharp your vision is and how well your eyes are able to focus, among other things. Based on the results of this eye exam and an understanding of your daily habits, they can determine if what you’re experiencing is CVS or something else.
The best part is, no matter what the outcome of your eye exam, you’re already in the perfect place to find a proper solution. If you need a new pair of glasses, the optometrist has completed an eye exam so you just need to select the perfect frame for you.
Avoiding and treating Computer Vision Syndrome
If you’ve been diagnosed with Computer Vision Syndrome, treatment is simple and mostly intuitive. In short, you just need to reduce the amount of strain you’re putting on your eyes and give them something else to focus on periodically.
- Get into the habit of taking breaks every couple of hours so your eyes have something else to focus on
- Use the 20-20-20 rule — Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet (6 meters) away.
- Increase the text size on your screen(s)
- Consider adding a screen glare filter
- Place your screen around 50cm – 80cm from your face
With these simple tips in mind, you can reduce or even avoid those unpleasant symptoms at the end of a long day — your eyes will thank you!