Computer Vision Syndrome – Eye Strain

eye strain

What is Eye Strain

The eye problems resulting from the prolonged use of digital or computer devices termed as the Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. It is the commonest cause of computer related eye problems. The symptoms occur because the brain and eyes react in a different way to words on a digital screen.

Who are at a Higher Risk for Eye Strain

IT Professionals: Jobs in IT sector demand prolonged work hours on computers. So, if you’re working as an IT professional, it is advisable to take precautions beforehand. Get regular eye checkups and wear anti-glare glasses.

Extended periods of reading and writing: Modernized methods of education have incorporated computers as an important tool in the hands of students. If your job requires extended periods of reading on computer screens, it is advisable to break the task into sections. Take breaks every 30 minutes. Also, if possible, get the hard copy printouts of your reading material.

How Do Computers Affect Vision
  • While working on a computer screen, an additional strain is experienced by the eyes due to the contrast and glare from the computer screen.
  • Additionally, while typing from some hard copy source of information, it may happen that you need to continuously shift your attention from the paper to the screen.
  • As a result, the eyes must accommodate the various images to help the brain process all the information. This results in an increased burden on the eyes as these activities increase the stress of the eye muscles.
  • The fact that prolonged use of computers can lead to visionary defects is known since ages. Many studies proved that up to 90 % of the population who extensively use the digital devices (mobiles/laptops etc) suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome with one or more symptoms ranging from mild to severe intensities.
  • Majority of eye strain symptoms results from prolonged hours of exposure to computer screens, smartphones and video games. Hence, this type of eye strain is known as Digital eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

    Main causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
  • Vision-related:
    Wrongly corrected or uncorrected glasses power
    Incompatible spectacles
    Wearing normal glasses without anti-glare
    Increased strain on the eye muscles due to prolonged exposure to computer screen without breaks
    Reduced eye blinking
  • Job and workstation-related:
    Extended work hours on computers
    Non-ergonomic workstation

Computer Eye Strain Symptoms

Dry eyes
Irritation of eyes
Redness of eyes
Blurred vision
A headache
Increased sensitivity to light
Double vision
Pseudo myopia
Shoulder and neck pain
Dizziness scrolling computer screen

Computer Vision Syndrome/ Computer Eye Strain Treatment and Prevention 
Ergonomic Workstation is the BEST solution:
Your workstation also has a powerful impact on the amount of stress that your eye experiences. It is generally advisable to place your monitor screen about 20- 28 inches away from your face. Also, the screen must be at a slightly lower level than your eyes.

In case, you need to type from some source, then place a stand next to your screen and hold the source papers on it. This will reduce the additional effort of constantly looking down and back on the screen.

Take a break –
20-20-20 RULE:

20-20-20 RULE stresses the importance to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away

With this practice, you can blink your eyes more often which will allow good lubrication and lower the eye stress.

  • Consider Anti-glare computer glasses:
    Computer glasses are specially designed eye wear for computer work. The eye wear helps in reducing the glare and optimizes the eyesight when you are focusing on digital screens.
  • Blink frequently:
    It is mandatory to blink often. Prolonged staring at the computer screen can cause irritation, redness and dry the eyes.
  • Increase the brightness of your monitor:
    The brightness of the computer screen increases your comfort of work for a long duration as it reduces the accommodating efforts of the eye with the good field of vision and focuses due to eye pupil constriction.
  • Importance of proper lighting:
    Avoid the use of high-intensity lamps which creates glare and cast shadows and make use of incandescent light.  Good lighting is healthy and very essential to minimize the strain on your eyes. Excessive bright light results in eye strain and hence it must be avoided.
    Close the drapes to eliminate exterior or external light. In order to minimize the interior light, use fewer light bulbs or make use of low-intensity bulbs and tubes.
  • Check your monitor’s position:
    It is essential to place the monitor at the proper distance away from the eyes. The ideal position of the monitor screen is 15-20 degrees below the eye level with 20-28 inches distance from the eyes.
  • Check the resolution of your screen:
    Eye strain can be minimized with a monitor displayed in a high-resolution as it gives finer images.

    Minimize glare
    Make sure to update an anti-glare screen which prevents glare from outside sources. Those who wear spectacles ideally must choose anti-reflective (AR) coating lenses. These type of lenses reduce the glare by removing the light that reflects your eyeglasses thus relieving the strain on your eyes. Clean the monitor on regular basis to remove dust.

    Eye Massaging
    Try this simple technique to relax your muscles and comfort your eyes by gently cupping of palms over the closed eyes which will provide warmth to the eyes. Regular small intervals massaging of the eyes will be very soothing.
  • Never ignore your vitamins:
    It is quite essential to get the proper amount of minerals and vitamins for the overall eye health. Consumption of diet with Vitamins A, C, and E with Zinc and B complex helps in reducing eye strain and will also improve the overall health of the eye.
  • Don’t miss annual eye check-up:
    The most important thing that can be done to treat or prevent computer vision problems is by having a routine thorough eye examination. During the examination, you should inform the doctor how often you use a computer. One should at least have an eye check up once a year.

How often should I visit my eye doctor for computer vision syndrome?
1. Regular eye check-ups at an interval of every 3 months are advisable.
2. You must keep the prescription up to date and inform your eye specialist if you experience any discomfort or uneasiness.
3. The doctor may prescribe you the right pair of glasses to suit your eyes requirements.
4. Make sure to get the eye examination for your kids also. Ensure that the computers they use are set to an optimum height and in the best light.

What Research says about Eye Strain?

Research Studies report 1

  • The 2016 Digital Eye Strain report which included survey responses from over 10000 US adults, identified an overall self-reported symptom prevalence of 65%, with females more commonly affected than males (69% vs 60% prevalence).
  • Digital Eye Strain was reported more frequently by individuals who used two or more devices simultaneously, compared with those using just one device at a time, with prevalences of 75% and 53%, respectively.
  • The finding of greater computer-related symptoms in females was in agreement with 2012 findings among a cohort of 520 office workers in New York City and may be linked to gender differences in dry eye prevalence.
  • For 10 defined symptoms, Portello et al documented that each symptom had been experienced by over 50% of respondents at least ‘some of the time’ during computer use within the last week.

Research Studies report 2

A multination European study including England, reported that by 3 years of age, 68% of children regularly use a computer and 54% undertake online activities.

In 2016, it was estimated that UK adults typically spend 4 hours 45 min per day using digital media, with a similar pattern in the USA, where approximately two-thirds of adults aged 30–49 years spend five or more hours on digital devices


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