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Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Our Santa Fe, TX eye care practice can help you with computer vision syndrome.

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS, includes a host of eye and vision-related issues that are cause by extended computer usage. When using digital devices, whether a PC or handheld, for extensive periods, lots of people notice sore eyes and visual difficulties. Severity of symptoms appears to be directly related to the length of time spent at the computer.

CVS Symptoms include: blurry vision, eyestrain, dry eyes, headaches and, although not directly related to eyes, it is often accompanied by aching neck and shoulders.

These signs might be triggered by a one or more of the following factors: inadequate lighting conditions in the room, computer screen glare, sitting to close or too far away from the screen, bad posture, not wearing glasses or contacts if you need them.

Most of the time, these problems go away when you eventually tear yourself away from the screen. However, some people continue to experience headaches and blurred vision for a while afterward, and sometimes symptoms are exacerbated by future computer use.

How to alleviate Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms:

By addressing the factors that cause computer vision syndrome, you can reduce the negative effects of extended computer use.

  • Problem: Extended computer use makes your eyes work hard. Compared to reading from a book, text on a screen is usually smaller and often the resolution is not as good as it would be in print. This can be exacerbated by glare from the screen and reflections from the lights in the room.
    Solution: Adjust the resolution and text size to suit your comfort level. The lighting in the room should be approximately the same as the screen, but not be reflected by it. Consider wearing glare-reducing computer glasses during periods of extended computer use, like if you work at a computer all day.
  • Problem: Most computer monitors are not set up at the optimal viewing distance or angle, which places additional strain on the eyes’ focusing and movement muscles. Poor computer ergonomics often leads to neck and back muscle strain and pain as well.
    Solution: Place your computer monitor about 20-28 inches away from your face, slightly below eye level, tilted up toward your eyes. Sit with good posture in a supportive computer chair, with both feet flat on the ground a few inches apart. Use proper wrist support for the mouse and keyboard.
  • Problem: Glare from the screen can cause eyestrain and headaches.
    Solution: Position the screen to avoid reflecting light from overhead lamps or windows. Wear specialized computer glasses or use an anti-glare monitor or screen cover.
  • Problem: Uncorrected vision problems, like presbyopia or myopia, are often exacerbated by computer use even if they are minor, and can affect your level of comfort or performance during that time.
    Solution: Eyesight problems should be addressed.
  • Problem: Staring at a screen causes dry eyes by because you blink less.
    Solution: Remember to blink, and don’t forget to drink.
  • Problem: Reading or watching a computer screen can make the eyes tired because they are not shifting focus.
    Solution: The 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and look at something 20 feet away. Your eyes and body will thank you.

Diagnosis

Optometrists assess computer vision syndrome using a variety of evaluations and eye exams which emphasize the visual demands associated with computers. For example:

  • Patient history, which includes eye health, general health, medications, current lifestyle and average computer use. We will also discuss symptoms noticed during or after periods of computer use.
  • Visual acuity and refraction to make sure your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription is correct.
  • Binocular Vision, because in order for the visual system to work properly, the eyes must focus and move in sync. If both eyes are not working together, tasks at arms’ length are usually more difficult, which can worsen CVS.

Most of these eye tests are carried out at our eye care clinic with completely non-invasive procedures, because we want to get an idea of how the eyes respond under normal conditions. Then we can go on to talk about treatment options to make your computer time more comfortable and productive.

Treatment

There are varying approaches to addressing computer vision syndrome, but most of the focus on alleviating symptoms by taking steps toward improving eye care and making changes to the physical set up of the computer screen.

Lenses: Sometimes regular eyeglasses or contact lenses, even if they are the right prescription, are not adequate for computer work. Lenses prescribed to meet your unique visual demands, which may have special lens designs, lens powers, or lens tints can enhance your eyesight and make computer work more comfortable.

Blinks and breaks: Blink your eyes frequently, and take a break from computer work about 3 times an hour. If your eyes feel dry or fatigued and your neck or shoulders feel stiff, that is your body’s way of telling you to change positions, stretch and refocus your eyes.

Vision Therapy: During a CVS diagnostic work-up, previously unknown problems related to tracking, focusing or eye teaming may be detected. A vision therapy program, or structured visual training, can help the eyes and brain work together better. By addressing these underlying issues, computer use becomes less taxing.

Computer set up: Make sure the computer screen is in the right position, at the right distance. Keep other reference materials at a height between the monitor and the keyboard. Adjust the lighting in the room and the computer screen to match one another, and position the screen to avoid glare from light bulbs and windows.

Routine eye exams and correct computer use practices can help prevent or reduce Computer Vision Syndrome.

Source: Computer Vision Syndrome, article by the American Optometric Association. ©2012  All rights reserved.  Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.

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