What is computer vision syndrome and why does it occur?
Ever since personal computers started becoming commonplace in homes and offices, a condition known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) has been on the rise. Millions of computer users commonly complain of eyestrain, headaches, blurred and double vision, dry and irritated eyes, eye discomfort, and neck and/or back pain. Because some of these symptoms may also be related to problems with chronic fatigue or stress-related disorders, it is important to talk to your doctor about other possible causes of discomfort and eliminate as many contributing factors as possible.
CVS symptoms can arise from a combination of existing visual problems, poor computer workstation conditions, and harmful user habits. One of the most significant problems associated with computer use is the reduction in your blink rate. Studies show that individuals blink approximately 66 percent less when using a computer. As a result, the tear film is replenished less frequently and evaporates more quickly, causing eye discomfort. Improper workstation lighting or monitor placement (sitting too close or too far from the terminal) may also influence symptoms of CVS.
The following tips can help reduce symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome:
Use lubricating drops. Frequent use (6-8 times per day) of over-the-counter lubricating drops, such as Systane Ultra, will help rewet the eye surface and reduce any eye irritation that can result from reduced blink rate. Also, remind yourself to blink more often, which will naturally lubricate the eyes and prevent them from drying out.
Adjust your computer monitor. Position the video display 10 to 20 degrees below eye level. This will allow you to look downward at the terminal, which will help improve blink rate and reduce tear film loss. This more natural position can also help alleviate musculoskeletal pain.
Look away from the screen. Look away from the computer screen at least once or twice every hour of computer usage. Varying your focal point will help provide temporary relief from the continual eye strain and glare of the monitor.
Use correct lighting. Proper lighting around the computer monitor is important. Do not place lights behind the monitor and do not work in the dark. Light should also not be aimed directly at the computer monitor; this will result in a glare. If direct light is present that cannot be altered, use an anti-reflective screen filter to help reduce the glare.