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Computer Vision Syndrome: What It Is and How To Prevent It

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In the digital age we live in, it seems that we simply can’t get away from our screens. Americans are now spending more time than ever on digital devices such as tablets, smartphones, computers and TVs.

All that time on digital devices can result in an increasingly common condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS). Common symptoms of CVS, which is also called digital eye strain, include headaches, eye fatigue, increased light sensitivity, blurry or double vision, and dry, red, burning or itchy eyes.

So, what causes CVS, who’s prone to it and what can you do to prevent it? Our eye doctors explain below.

What Causes CVS and Who’s At Highest Risk?

Many factors contribute to computer vision syndrome: on-screen text isn’t always as sharp as printed words, digital screens often give off glare, and poor lighting conditions can force you to squint or strain to see. All of this can be extremely taxing on the eyes, which is why 90% of people who spend 3 hours or more on digital screens experience symptoms of CVS.

Further, studies show that focusing on a digital screen causes you to blink only about half as often, causing extra eye strain and dry eyes.

Wearing the wrong glasses or contact prescription, having presbyopia, or taking certain medications with side effects that affect the eyes are all also factors that contribute to the development of CVS.

Preventing CVS Symptoms

If you find that you’re spending extended time in front of digital screens, one simple and effective way to prevent symptoms of CVS is practice what is known as “the 20/20/20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a chance to “reset” before focusing on the digital screen again.

This method has been shown to both reduce your risk of developing CVS, and decrease the severity of symptoms for those who still suffer from it.

Other effective tips for preventing CVS include:

  • Match the screen brightness to the level of light in your surroundings. Darker screens in darker rooms. Lighter screens in lighter rooms.
  • Keep your screen clean. Dirt can increase glare and strain your eyes.
  • View devices at arm’s length, slightly below eye level. This is the optimum distance to reduce eye strain.
  • Increase screen contrast and enlarge font, to make words easier to read.
  • Increase moisture in the air and reduce dry eyes by using a humidifier.

You can also speak to our eye doctors to ensure your prescription is up-to-date, and hear how specialized computer glasses can help reduce CVS symptoms by filtering harmful blue light and emphasizing the particular type of vision necessary for extended close-vision work.

Want to know more about CVS and how you can prevent it? Contact our optometrists at Westpoint Optical or give us a call at 905-488-1626 today.

Q&A

Is computer vision syndrome permanent?

Fortunately, computer vision syndrome isn’t permanent. Even if you’ve been suffering symptoms for a long time, a change in digital media and screen habits can help reduce the severity and frequency of your CVS. You should also speak to your eye doctor about products, such as computer glasses, that may help.

Is blue light from digital devices dangerous?

Along with its contribution to headaches and eyestrain associated with CVS, blue light can disrupt the sleep cycle. Scientists are now investigating whether blue light could raise the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration later in life. Adjusting your digital screens to warmer colors and wearing computer glasses can help reduce exposure.