Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
With many of us spending more and more time in front of our digital devices every day, it’s no surprise that research is showing an increase in the detection of visual problems. Having uncorrected near or farsightedness, astigmatism or the inability to focus your eyes at a reading distance, like you could when you were younger, can all make computer and cell phone use less comfortable and efficient. Depending on your condition, your eyes could be working harder than normal to maintain a sharp image when viewing a screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain or even dry eyes, with prolonged use of these devices.
To ensure easy and comfortable usage of your devices, book your appointment for a thorough eye health exam. To improve your experience, the doctor will need to know:
- How many hours a day you use a computer
- The distance from your eyes to your screen
- The overall set up of your workstation, your main work tasks and if you have multiple screens
- The type and location of lighting in your computer area
This will help us discover if you suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, or if your ocular discomfort is the result of a more serious vision or health problem.
To help reduce the likelihood of developing Computer Vision Syndrome, consider the following suggestions from the Ontario Association of Optometrists:
- Position your screen about an arm’s length from your eyes and 20 degrees below eye level.
- Set colour and contrast tones to suit your eyes, and match the brightness of your screen with your surroundings.
- Minimize reflected glare on your screen by dimming the lights in the room if possible and consider using a protective anti-glare screen cover. Also consider positioning your screen so that it sits perpendicular to windows and other bright light sources.
- Keep your screen free of fingerprints and dust, as both can reduce visual clarity.
- If you alternate between looking at your screen and paperwork, consider obtaining a clipboard that attaches alongside your monitor so that the two are at the same working distance.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This will give your eyes a much-needed break and reduce some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.
- Remember to blink! Did you know that on average we blink 12 times per minute, but when we’re on the computer, we only blink 5 times per minute? That can add up to dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial tears (eye drops) or gels and remembering to blink. Ask us to determine which eye drops are best for you.
- Ask for anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses, which can be applied at the time of manufacturing, to protect your eyes from bright and/or flickering light sources such as fluorescent lights.
- Ask for lenses designed to reduce focusing effort while looking at computer screens. Many lens manufacturers now have prescription lenses that reduce the amount of focusing effort that the eyes must exert. These lenses, often called “computer” lenses, or “task” lenses are optimized for a computer screen distance and tend to maximize the field of view which is important as many people now have wider or even multiple monitors.
While digital eye strain can cause symptoms like headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes, eye pain or excessive blinking, any time you experience these symptoms, you should call for a comprehensive eye examination.