Computer vision syndrome is defined as any eye problem caused by excessive use of computer and other similar gadgets. Computer vision syndrome or CVS does not refer to one single type of eye disorder but refers to all kinds of eye strains and pains caused by looking into computer screen for long hours.
Who are Vulnerable to Computer Vision Syndrome?
Over the past few years with increased demand of using computer at work, the incidence of computer vision syndrome has drastically increased. Studies have shown that 50 to 90 % of people who work on computer at work develop some sort of eye issue which is classified as computer vision syndrome. It is interesting to note that not just adults, but even children are equally affected by this condition. Those who are vulnerable for computer vision syndrome are individuals who have the habit of:
- Excessive usage of tablet and phones
- Playing video games for long hours
- Watching TV for long hours
- Studying on laptop or computers etc.
This condition worsens with inadequate lighting and incorrect posture.
As with other health issues generally developed at work place (such as carpel tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries), computer vision syndrome is caused by repetitive eye pattern while working on computer. The eyes tend to follow the same pattern for long hours every day. As the pattern become longer the condition worsens.
While working on a computer the eyes are constantly focused on the screen. There is restricted eye movement while reading things on the screen. There may be change in this pattern while looking down at the paper work, but this is for a short period of time. The brain is constantly working to interpret the images sent by the eyes. This creates excessive pressure and strain on the eye muscles. The flickering and glare from the screen makes this condition worse.
Other issues that worsen the condition include presence of existing eye problems and aging. The ability for the eye to focus on nearby objects drastically reduces after the age of 40, thus making them more vulnerable to computer vision syndrome.
What are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?
As mentioned earlier, any eye issue caused by excessive use of computers fall under computer vision syndrome. Symptoms associated can be any eye discomfort caused by straining from looking into the computer screen. If the person is known to work on computers, the presence of the following symptoms can be alarming.
- Blurring of vision
- Double vision
- Dryness in eyes
- Redness in eyes
- Itchiness or generalized irritation in eyes
- Watering from eyes
- Back pain or neck pain.
If the condition is not treated on time, it can worsen the condition and can even affect the work performance of the person.
How is Computer Vision Syndrome Managed?
It is often impossible to avoid working on computer considering the nature of the work. Steps should be taken to manage the situation better and reduce the harmful effect of looking into the computer screen for long. The following measures are suggested to improve the symptoms and prevent worsening of the condition:
- Reducing the Glare. Changing the lighting around the workplace can make a dramatic difference to the eyes. Excessive glare from windows or overhead light should be avoided. The computer screen should be kept away from such glares. In case of bright overhead fixture, a dimming switch should be installed or a movable table lamp should be installed to ensure even lighting over the desk. Installing a glare filter over the monitor can also be considered.
- Rearranging Desk to Manage Computer Vision Syndrome. It is advised to place the monitor slightly below the eye level and about 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Stretching or straining of the neck should be avoided to view the screen. It is also advised to install a stand next to the screen for holding papers, so that you don’t have to look up and down while working and thus taking off the strain from the eyes.
- Regular Breaks. It is very important to provide adequate rest to the eyes from time to time. The 20-20-20 rule is easy to follow and very good for the eyes. According to this rule, it is advised to look at something 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Blinking often reduces the strain and help in keeping the eyes moist. For people with dry eyes, moisturising eye drops can be used.
- Altering the Computer Settings. The default settings on the computer can be changed to a much comfortable setting. The brightness, contrast and font size can be adjusted to a comfortable level to avoid straining of the eyes and thus prevent computer vision syndrome from worsening.
- Visiting an Eye Specialist Often. It is advised to visit an eye doctor on a regular basis to ensure that eyes are functioning well and for early detection of issues. Eye treatment done at the right time can prevent worsening of the problem. Sometimes special glasses are prescribed for wearing while using computers. It is also important to take children for regular eye check-up and change the settings of the computers or gadgets as need be.
Following the above mentioned methods not only prevent the condition from happening but also prevents worsening of computer vision syndrome.