Computer Vision Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

The benefits of modern-day computing and the Internet have led to a group of eye and vision-related problems. Collectively, this group is called Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS. CVS is caused by spending an extended amount of time looking at computer screens and other digital devices.

Between work and home computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, it’s easy to log a lot of hours staring at a screen. (We’ve certainly experienced it ourselves!)

Looking at a computer screen is different from reading printed pages, and often makes your eyes work harder. For example, screen glare and reflections, low contrast, and poor definition make text difficult to read on a digital display. The way we interact with digital displays, software and Internet pages is also different from “traditional” paper-based reading and writing. And uncorrected vision problems and age-related vision changes can also be contributing factors for CVS.

Symptoms of CVS

Common symptoms that can begin or become worse due to CVS include:

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

When patients describe these symptoms, we use a comprehensive exam to check for visual clarity, focus, alignment, and movement issues.

Treatment and Preventive Measures for CVS

Reducing the stresses that build up with prolonged computer and digital device use is key to treating CVS. A combination of treatment and preventative measures can help protect and improve your eyesight. For example:

Find your sweet spot. Our eyes naturally look out and downward. To accommodate this, position your computer monitor so the center of your screen is a few inches below eye level, and 20 to 28 inches from your eyes.

Adjust your lighting. Give yourself ample lighting, but position your digital screen and your light sources to avoid glare.

Use anti-glare screens. When you have little or no control over your surrounding light, use an anti-glare filter over your computer screen. If glare is a problem at work, ask your employer to supply an anti-glare filter for your computer.

Take breaks and blink frequently. Allow your eyes to refocus at a distance and relax by looking around the room every 20 minutes. To prevent eyestrain, rest your eyes for 15 minutes every two hours. And be sure to blink! It helps keep your eyes moist and reduces your chances for developing dry eyes.

Your eyes work hard for you. Give them the rest and support they need to stay healthy. And if you’re concerned about CVS for yourself or a loved one, please call us to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help!

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please contact our office.

Computer Vision Correction

Working for long periods on a computer is a demanding visual task. Daily, millions of Americans use a computer for hours at a time, both at work and at play. Many of them routinely experience symptoms of headache, fatigue, blurry vision, scratchy eyes, or pain in the shoulders, neck or back.

Our eyes and brain react differently to characters displayed on a computer screen than they do to characters printed on paper. Computer images are less distinct than printed characters, may have perceptible flicker, and usually have less contrast between characters and the background. Computer users must rapidly switch focus from keyboard to monitor and vice versa; this constant refocusing can also contribute to symptoms.

What are computer glasses?

Computer glasses are prescription glasses that are specifically designed to wear when doing computer work. They allow you to focus your eyes comfortably on a computer screen, which is usually farther away than reading material is held.

General purpose bifocals and trifocals are not designed for computer work. Bifocals force the wearer to tilt the head back in order to focus on the screen, while looking through the lower portion of the bifocal lenses. While conventional trifocals allow a more normal head posture, they generally have too small an area for viewing the computer screen and the visible dividing lines can be a significant distraction.

Which kind of computer glasses are the best?

There is no one type of computer glasses that fits all or is the best for everyone. Visual ability, personal preferences of the computer operator, the type of work, the distance between the computer user’s eyes and the monitor, and lighting design in the workplace should all be taken into consideration when selecting computer glasses.

Lens design and lens options vary significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. It’s always best to make your final selection of computer glasses based upon the advice and recommendations of your eye doctor; however, all of the options listed below have proven to be beneficial for computer users.

Progressive Addition Lenses

Surveys conducted among persons working long hours with computers revealed that Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs) were the lenses of choice. These modern lenses have more than just the cosmetic advantage of “no lines.” They provide all the benefits of bifocals but add the feature of continuous clear vision at all distances, including mid-range distance (arm’s length). Several lens manufactures have introduced PALs designed specifically for computer use. These specialized PALs allow an even wider field of view for near and intermediate working distances than standard PALs.

Anti-Reflective coating

Today’s advanced Anti-Reflective (AR) coatings eliminate bothersome reflections from overhead lights and computer monitors. AR coatings not only reduce reflections but increase the amount of light transmitted through the lenses to the wearer’s eyes. It may seem strange but AR coated lenses actually appear clearer than uncoated clear lenses…sometimes appearing to be nearly “invisible.”

Natural light sources (windows) can be especially bothersome in the workplace. When a window is located over the wearer’s shoulder, natural light striking the back surfaces of the lenses bounces directly into the wearer’s eyes. Since outside light levels are quite high, the intensity of these reflections can be even greater than reflections from light sources within the workplace. An AR coating placed on the back surfaces of the lenses eliminates these “outside” reflections as well.

High Index Lenses

Modern technology has created lenses that bend light differently so that stronger corrections are thinner than when made in conventional materials. Such lenses are called “high index”. High index materials can drastically reduce the thickness and weight of prescription lenses. Lens thickness can sometimes be cut by as much as 50% by simply using a higher index material and choosing an appropriate frame. High index materials are more shatter resistant than traditional plastic and will improve the appearance of any prescription.

Note: High index lenses bend light to a greater degree so an anti-reflective coating is especially recommended to maximize their performance and cosmetic advantages.

In Conclusion

  • Computer glasses provide a wide field of view so that the user can clearly read both their computer screen and closer printed material.
  • Anti-glare coatings can be used to eliminate bothersome reflections from windows, overhead lights and other nearby computer monitors.
  • Use of high-index lens materials keeps lenses thinner and lighter in weight.
  • Computer glasses give the most natural, comfortable vision possible.
  • Computer PALs provide clearer vision for reading and viewing screens at intermediate distances better than any previously designed lens.

If you’re one of the millions of people who use a computer on a regular basis, be sure to ask your eye doctor about “computer glasses” the next time you have your eyes examined or replace your current prescription.