Did you know that frequent computer use can negatively impact your eye health? Excess exposure to digital screens can result in what’s called computer vision syndrome (CVS). To learn more about what CVS is and how to treat it, check out the guide below.
Table of Contents
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome—also called digital eye strain—is a group of vision problems that result from excess digital exposure. This condition is characterized by spending extended periods looking at a screen without blinking, at too close or too far of a distance, and/or too soon before falling asleep. If left untreated, chronic CVS can lead to a permanent loss of visual acuity—which is your eyes’ ability to make out shapes and letters at a given distance.
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
Common digital devices that cause CVS include laptops, computer monitors, tablets, smartphones, and e-readers. Most people with CVS typically don’t experience symptoms until after spending two or more consecutive hours looking at a digital screen.
Here is a list of the most common causes of this vision condition:
- Poor room lighting
- Screen glare
- Improper viewing distance
- Poor posture
- Underlying, uncorrected vision or general health issue(s)
- Lack of blinking
Why Are Digital Screens Harmful to Your Eyes?
According to the American Optometric Association, working American adults average roughly seven hours of daily screen time. Since our eyes aren’t designed to spend so much time looking at digital screens, this prolonged screen time can negatively impact your eyes and, ultimately, your vision.
A leading reason why digital screens are harmful to our eyes is that words on a screen are more difficult to read than printed words. Our eyes must work harder to make out the letters, which increases eye strain.
Screen time—whether it’s on a computer, a mobile phone, or a TV—also exposes our eyes to blue light. This high-energy light that digital devices emit not only interferes with our ability to fall and stay asleep but has been linked to eye strain, blurry vision, dry eye, and other vision conditions. These underlying eye conditions increase your risk of developing CVS.
5 Common Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
If you have CVS, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms—most of which are temporary. The greater your screen time, the worse your symptoms are likely to be.
1. Blurred Vision
As discussed previously, letters on a digital screen are more difficult to make out than letters printed on a page. This forces your eyes to work harder to make out words, which can cause vision to blur.
2. Dry Eyes
People with CVS often suffer from chronic dry eye. That’s because staring at a screen for hours on end without taking breaks and without blinking enough causes the eyes to lose their natural moisture. Learn more about dry eye treatment from Specialty Eye Institute.
3. Eye Strain
The leading symptom of excess screen exposure is eye strain.
Eye strain caused by excess screen exposure may cause mild to severe headaches.
5. Neck & Shoulder Pain
Angling your head downward to read a computer screen and practicing poor posture can lead to an array of physical discomfort.
How Computer Vision Syndrome Is Diagnosed
Any case of CVS must be diagnosed before treatment can begin. The go-to method for diagnosing CVS is a comprehensive eye exam. Here’s what you can expect from a comprehensive eye exam at Specialty Eye Institute.
- Your doctor will review your patient history, including medications taken, any underlying health issues, and the average amount of time spent on digital devices
- Your doctor will perform a series of tests to measure your visual acuity
5 Ways to Treat & Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome
While visual exposure to digital devices can’t be prevented entirely, it can be reduced and treated with the following methods.
Over-the-counter eye drops keep the eyes moist and prevent dry eye, which makes CVS more likely to develop.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and blink often to help your eyes retain their natural moisture.
Adding a humidifier to your workspace increases the air’s moisture level, which can reduce dry eye symptoms that lead to CVS.
4. Screen Position
While reducing screen time is the goal, modifying your computer use can help prevent or reduce CVS symptoms. Here are some habits to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Keep your monitor at eye level and at a safe distance from your eyes.
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule: After working on a digital device for 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes time to rest and readjust.
A room that’s too dark can force your eyes to work harder than they should, while a room that’s too bright can overstimulate your eyes. Be sure to invest in an anti-glare computer screen to keep light reflection at bay.
Comprehensive Computer Vision Syndrome Treatment Options at Specialty Eye Institute
From dry eye treatment to routine eye exams, Specialty Eye Institute is the name you can trust to provide the comprehensive eye care services you need. Click the button below to Schedule Appointment with the #1 eye care providers in Ohio and Michigan.