Posted June 3, 2011
If you regularly use a computer at work, do you experience headaches, neck or shoulder pain, eyestrain, blurred vision or dry eyes? If so, you may have symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
While most of us do use computers in one form or another, we also have portable laptops and cell phones or PDAs (personal digital assistants) that offer all of the bells and whistles of a personal computer, but with much smaller screens. What about gamers who play video games for hours on end or other people who watch television for several hours each night? It can all have an impact on your vision.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), up to 90 percent of employees who use a computer at least three hours a day experience vision problems, which can result in employees taking time off to deal with eye strain, headaches, blurred or double vision, and dry or irritated eyes.
Viewing information on a computer monitor often requires your eyes to work harder. The letters on the screen may not be as precise or sharply defined as when reading words printed on paper, and the contrast of the letters to the background may make reading or viewing more difficult. When you focus intently on a computer monitor, you may not blink as frequently and your eyes can dry out. Blinking is essential to keeping the surface of the eye moist.
The following situations contribute to CVS:
- Poor seating or posture while working on the computer
- Improper viewing distance from the computer screen
- Poor lighting
- Computer screen glare or screen contrast
- Uncorrected vision problems, such as farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or coordination and aging of the eyes
The duration of CVS often depends on the length of time spent on the computer and the individual’s particular vision problems. Many symptoms are temporary and disappear after completing computer work. If primary reasons for the symptoms of CVS are not corrected, they may continue to transpire and become more severe with continued computer use.
Individuals experiencing CVS should consider these solutions:
- Rest eyes for 15 minutes after 2 hours of continuous computer use; look into the distance for 20 seconds after 20 minutes of looking at your computer monitor
- Intentionally blink eyes while doing computer work; use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air and artificial tears when eyes feel dry
- Schedule regular, comprehensive eye examinations to evaluate eye health and any vision correction needs and ask your eye doctor whether you need glasses or contacts specifically designed for computer usage
- Children should have an exam at 6 months old, 3 years old, before entering first grade and then every two years after that, or as recommended by a doctor
- Adults ages 18-60 need an eye exam at least every two years, and if you’re over 60 the AOA recommends an eye exam every year, or as directed by your eye doctor
If you have experienced Computer Vision Syndrome, what were your symptoms? What treatment options have you pursued? – Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group