Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS): A whole range of eye strain and discomfort caused due to digital life

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Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS): A whole range of eye strain and discomfort caused due to digital life

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Nowadays, computers, tablets, smart phones and other digital gadget have significant roles in daily life. A number of people have jobs, either at homes or offices that require them to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. Viewing a computer or digital screen often makes the eyes work harder. As a result, high visual demands from using computer and digital screens make individuals susceptible to the development of vision-related symptoms, such as eyestrain, dry eyes, eye irritation and blurred vision. These abnormal signs and symptoms might potentially indicate “Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS” which is described as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and smart phone use. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use. Although CVS is not serious eye problem that leads to vision loss, if left untreated, it usually causes high degree of eye discomfort and interferes with daily activities, resulting in impaired quality of life.

Get to know “Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS”

Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS is defined as a group of eye and visionrelated problems that result from prolonged use of digital gadget, such as computer, tablet, ereader and smart phone. The level of eye irritation and discomfort appears to increase relatively with the amount of digital screen use. Clinical research indicates that up to 90% of people who continuously work at a computer screen longer than 3 hours/day have at least some symptoms of CVS, affecting their daily life and activities.

Signs and symptoms of CVS

CVS is not one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and discomfort. The extent to which individuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent at a digital screen. Sign and symptoms of CVS include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Dry or red eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision or focusing problem
  • Light sensitivity (an intolerance of light)
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain

Risk factors of CVS

Factors those contribute to CVS include:

  • Less blinking. When working at a computer, the eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. This causes reduced eye blinking, resulting in dry eyes and eye irritation.
  • Inadequate lighting while working at the screen.
  • The presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult.
  • Viewing digital screen is different than reading a printed page such as newspaper. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced and the resolution quality of digital screen is not stable. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for digital screen viewing can place additional demands on the visual system, causing eyestrain and discomfort.
  • Improper distance between the chair and the screen.
  • Inappropriate eye level on the screen.
  • Unhealthy seating positions.
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Prevention of CVS

A few simple changes to the workspace can prevent CVS. These suggestions include:

  1. Readjusting location of computer screen and seating position
    • Optimally, the computer screen should be slightly below eye level, as measured from the center of the screen and it should be 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes.
    • Padding in front of keyboard that is below the screen by keeping the wrists and arms parallel to the floor with the perpendicular elbows. Reaching forwards position should be avoided.
    • Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so the feet can rest flat on the floor. Knee flexion should be perpendicular while the thighs are parallel to the floor. If the chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while typing. Arm or elbow supportive material can be also used to reduce muscle strain in the shoulders, arms and wrists.
    • Materials or documents should be located above the keyboard and same level as the monitor so you do not need to change focus and move your head to look from the document to the screen.
  2. Proper lighting and cutting the glare
    • Change the surrounding lighting to reduce the effect on the computer screen. If light from a nearby window casts a glare, move the monitor and close the shades. An excess light might cause reflection, resulting in eye discomfort.
    • A screen glare filter can be added to decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
    • Brightness of the screen and the color difference between the screen and the texts should be adjusted to see the clearest texts, allowing the most comfortable feeling for the eyes.
  3. Taking a break
    • It is highly recommended to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
    • Taking a rest is advised every 2 hours by walking away from the desk and being relaxed for at least 1520 minutes.
  4. Frequent blinking or using artificial tears
    • Blinking helps to keep your eyes moist. If they feel dry, artificial tears can be also used.
  5. Having a regular eye exam with an ophthalmologist
    • Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with CVS.

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