Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome. James Porter

If you spend a lot of time each day in front of a computer, you are likely to experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). CVS is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms caused by prolonged computer use. Symptoms appear because the eyes and brain react differently to words on a computer screen than they do to printed text. With more and more adults and children using computers on a daily basis, CVS has become a common vision complication.

And an increasing number of people are seeking relief from eyestrain and irritation caused by CVS.

What causes CVS?

The eyes respond well to most printed material. Most text consists of bold, black letters on a bright, white background. The eyes can easily focus on images with well-defined edges that are strongly contrasted against their backgrounds. However, words and images on a computer screen do not have well-defined edges. Characters displayed on a computer screen are made up of several small dots, or pixels. The eyes cannot easily focus on pixels, so they must work harder to see the computer screen clearly. The constant struggle to focus leads to fatigue and tired, burning eyes. Many people try to compensate for uncomfortable vision symptoms by leaning forward or by tipping their head to look through the bottom portion of their glasses. These actions can result in a sore neck, sore shoulders and a sore back.

Symptoms of CVS

People who suffer from CVS may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Eye irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Temporary inability to focus on a distant object (pseudomyopia or accommodative spasm)
  • Double vision
  • Squinting
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Treatment of computer vision syndrome

If you think you might be feeling some of the symptoms of CVS, you may benefit from a pair of computer glasses.

Computer glasses are prescription glasses specially designed to allow patients to work comfortably on a computer. Computer work involves focusing the eyes at a close distance. Standard reading glasses are usually not enough to alleviate symptoms of CVS, as computer monitors are usually placed a little further away than the comfortable reading distance. Computer glasses allow a person to easily focus on the distance of the computer screen. Contact lens wearers may even need to wear glasses over their contacts while using the computer. Do not think of this a problem that exists in those over 40 years of age either, computer vision problems occur in young people too and is fast becoming a common complaint when those young people visit the eye doctor's offices. Even small uncorrected vision problems can become a problem when you spend 4 or more hours on the computer every day.

Coping with computer vision syndrome

If you are having trouble with your eyes while using a computer, the following tips are worth a try.

  • Consider a pair of computer glasses
  • Blink, breathe and break. Blink more often, take frequent deep breaths, and take a short break every hour
  • Use artificial tears for dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduce screen glare by adjusting light levels
  • Increase font size on your computer screen

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