Computer Vision Syndrome

By Ashesh Acharya

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer VisionSyndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of eye and vision-relatedproblems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phoneuse. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems whenviewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appearsto increase with the amount of digital screen use.

The most common symptoms associated withComputer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms may be caused by:

  • poor lighting
  • glare on a digitalscreen
  • improper viewingdistances
  • poor seating posture
  • uncorrected visionproblems
  • a combination of thesefactors

The extent to whichindividuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of theirvisual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.Uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and aging changes of the eyes, suchas presbyopia, can all contribute to the development ofvisual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen device.

Many of the visual symptoms experienced by usersare only temporary and will decline after stopping computer work or use of thedigital device. However, some individuals may experience continued reducedvisual abilities, such as blurred distance vision, even after stopping work ata computer. If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, thesymptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future digital screenuse. 

Prevention or reduction of the vision problemsassociated with Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain involves takingsteps to control lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing properworking distances and posture for screen viewing, and assuring that even minorvision problems are properly corrected.

Howis Computer Vision Syndrome, or Digital Eye Strain treated?

Solutions to digital screen-related vision problems are varied. However, theycan usually be alleviated by obtaining regular eye care and making changes inhow you view the screen.


In some cases, individuals who do not require the use of eyeglasses for otherdaily activities may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for computeruse. In addition, persons already wearing glasses may find their currentprescription does not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer.

  • Eyeglasses or contactlenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Lensesprescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing may be needed.Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help tomaximize visual abilities and comfort.
  • Some computer usersexperience problems with eye focusing or eye coordination that can't beadequately corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. A program of visiontherapy may be needed to treat these specific problems. Vision therapy, alsocalled visual training, is a structured program of visual activities prescribedto improve visual abilities. It trains the eyes and brain to work together moreeffectively. These eye exercises help remediate deficiencies in eye movement,eye focusing and eye teaming and reinforce the eye-brain connection. Treatmentmay include office-based as well as home training procedures.
computer vision syndrome

Viewing the Computer

Proper body positioning for computer use.

Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to dowith the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chaircomfort, location of reference materials, position of the monitor, and the useof rest breaks.

  • Location of computer screen - Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer whenthe eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center ofthe screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
  • Reference materials - These materials should be located above the keyboard and belowthe monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside themonitor. The goal is to position the documents so you do not need to move yourhead to look from the document to the screen.
  • Lighting - Position thecomputer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows.Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps withbulbs of lower wattage.
  • Anti-glare screens - If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources,consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount oflight reflected from the screen.
  • Seating position - Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body.Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If yourchair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while you aretyping. Your wrists shouldn't rest on the keyboard when typing.
  • Rule of 20-20-20 - To prevent eyestrain, try to rest your eyes when using thecomputer for long periods. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours ofcontinuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, lookinto the distance(preferably beyond 20 feet) for 20 seconds to allow your eyesa chance to refocus.
  • Blinking - To minimize yourchances of developing dry eye when using a computer, make an effort to blink frequently.Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist.

Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent orreduce the development of the symptoms associated with Computer VisionSyndrome.

Source :American Optometry Association

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