Notably, with the rise in the competitive cloud computing edge, the Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) (computer eye strain) is on the rise too—and can be quite troublesome. For instance, I spend almost half of my day behind a computer or mobile gadget. Working myself tirelessly and clocking both my scheduled timelines, brain, and even eyes capacity.
Of course, with so much to do behind these computerized, and glass-light-enabled gadgets, computer eye strain comes in handy. Even though this topic sounds unfamiliar, to some, it is a risk worth a few minutes of their precious time. Especially, with consideration to our scientifically proven and holistic methods.
These digital eye strain problems have been increasing in frequency over the past few decades. Many people have some symptoms if they use a computer or digital device for long periods. Most computer or digital device users have symptoms at least some of the time.
Basically, digital eye strain is very common in both children and adults. So, this article guide could be a lifesaver to you or even someone close to you. Important to realize, we’ll discuss Asthenopia or Asthenopic (eye strain).
Not forgetting, the symptoms in the eye that are responsible for much of the severity in CVS (Computer Eye Strain). And, as you will find out, proper rest to the eye and its muscles is recommended to relieve the associated eye strain.
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or rather Digital Eye Strain is a condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display device. It’s the physical discomfort that follows after prolonged computer use. Especially, for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time.
As a result—of the Computer Eye Strain in this case—the eye muscles are unable to recover from the strain due to a lack of adequate sleep. In reality, observations from persons experiencing chronic eye strain have shown that most people who claim to be getting enough sleep are actually not.
This, unaware to them, causes the eye strain to build up over a period of time. As to when or if they had simply obtained seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, the answer is on the beholder. For one thing, their eye muscles would have recovered during the sleep and the strain would not have built up.
CVS isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and discomfort. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms. Several factors help to cause digital eye strain, such as screen glare, poor lighting, poor posture while using a computer, etc.
Also, viewing a computer at the wrong distance and angle and uncorrected vision problems can be the source. Working adults aren’t the only ones affected. Kids who stare at tablets or use computers during the day at school can have issues, too, especially if the lighting and their posture are less than ideal.
How Do Computers Affect Our Vision?
Generally, CVS is similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries you might get at work. It happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over. And it can get worse the longer you continue the movement. When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. Not to mention, they move back and forth as you read.
You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes react to images constantly moving and changing, shifting focus, sending rapidly varying images to the brain. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare.
What’s more, it is proven that we blink far less frequently when using a computer, which causes the eyes to dry out and blur our vision periodically while working. You’re more likely to have problems if you already have eye trouble. And, if you need glasses but don’t have them, or if you wear the wrong prescription for computer use.
Computer work gets harder as you age and the natural lenses in your eyes become less flexible. Somewhere around age 40, your ability to focus on near and far objects will start to go away. Your eye doctor will call this condition presbyopia.
The Main Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) Symptoms
For many reasons, reading text on a computer screen or digital device is often harder for the eyes than reading printed text. This is why working on a computer for a few hours may cause symptoms of digital eye strain, but reading a book may not.
People often blink less when using a computer than when reading printed text. This can cause dry eye, thus may contribute to Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Unfortunately, it seems everyone is staring at a computer screen, phone, or other digital device these days. And it’s causing a serious problem called digital or computerized eye strain.
There’s no proof that computer use causes any long-term damage to the eyes. But regular use can lead to eye strain and discomfort. But, in reality, symptoms of computer vision syndrome may vary.
- eye fatigue
- dry eyes
- blurred vision
- neck and shoulder pain
- eye twitching
- red eyes
As can be seen, from the above list, some symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, fatigue, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness, polyopia, and difficulty refocusing the eyes. These symptoms can be further aggravated by improper room and computer gadgets lighting conditions.
For example, glare, strong blue-spectrum backlights, bright overhead lighting, etc. Or even, air moving past the eyes (e.g. overhead vents, direct air from a fan).
Above is an image of a frustrated woman using a computer with a stack of papers — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis.
A few simple changes to your workspace can improve your symptoms and prevent new problems. If you don’t do anything about them, it could affect more than your eyes. You could also have issues with your work performance.
How Is Digital Eye Strain Diagnosed?
Your eye care provider will make a diagnosis with a health history and complete an eye exam. They will assess if any health problems, medicines, or environmental factors might be adding to your symptoms. Your eye care provider may test the sharpness of your vision and how well your eyes focus and work together.
For a more detailed exam, your provider may want to dilate (enlarge) your pupils. Then they will use a device (ophthalmoscope) to look at the back of your eye. In some cases, you may need to get follow-up blood tests for healthcare problems that might be helping to cause your digital eye strain.
Treatment includes creating a better work environment.
- Rest your eyes at least 15 minutes after every 2 hours of computer or digital device use.
- Every 20 minutes, look into the distance at least 20 feet away from the computer or digital device. Do this for at least 20 seconds.
- Enlarge the text on your computer screen or digital device.
- Reduce glare from the light sources in your environment.
- Think about using a screen glare filter.
- Place your screen so that the center of it is about 4 to 5 inches below eye level (about 15 to 20 degrees from the horizontal).
- Place your screen about 20 to 28 inches from your eye. ( About arm’s length.)
- Remember to blink often.
- Fix your chair height so your feet can rest comfortably on the floor. Don’t slump over the computer screen.
Making these changes may help eliminate Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) in many people.
Your eye care provider will also need to treat any hidden health problems that may be adding to your digital eye strain. For instance, you might need a new pair of glasses. If you have an underlying dry eye problem, your eye care provider might advise the following:
- Using lubricating drops
- Treating allergies, if you have them
- Creating a more humid work environment
- Drinking more fluids (staying hydrated)
- Taking a prescription medicine to increase tear production
How To Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
There’s a high chance that if you’re reading this, you work on a computer for most, if not all of the day. Even if you don’t, there’s still a high chance you’re looking at a screen of some kind for the majority of the day. And that makes you tired. More specifically, it makes your eyes tired, which further stresses the rest of your body. It’s likely a cycle we all know a little too well.
To prevent digital eye strain create a better work environment to help prevent it. If you use glasses or corrective lenses, see your eye care provider at least once a year or as advised for a checkup. Also, see your healthcare provider regularly. This can help prevent and treat health problems that can help cause digital eye strain.
You may be at greater risk for digital eye strain if you:
- Spend a few hours or more a day at a computer or on a digital device
- Are too close to your computer or digital device screen
- View your computer or digital device at the wrong angle
- Have bad posture while using your computer or digital device
- Having eye problems (even minor ones) not corrected with glasses or contact lenses
- Have a pair of glasses that is not suitable for viewing the distance of your computer
- Don’t take breaks while you are working
You may have an underlying problem with dry eye. This may make digital eye strain worse, or more likely to occur. Dry eye is more common in women than in men. It also becomes more common with age. Some medicines and health problems make a dry eye more likely. For example, if you use antihistamines, you may be at greater risk of having dry eyes.
If you have thyroid disease or certain autoimmune diseases, you are also at greater risk of having dry eye. Below, I have steps, however, that can alleviate and even prevent this kind of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). So that your job and habits don’t have to negatively impact your overall well-being quite so much.
1. Blink Often
Okay, so the actual solution is a little more complicated than that, but in the end, blinking more often can really help prevent eye strain. Even those minute flashes where you’re eyes are covered give your brain a chance to rest. And that time adds up over the day.
It’s literally why when you’re strained and stressed that you can simply close your eyes and feel an almost immediate sense of relief. For sure, you can actually tell your boss “I’m just resting my eyes, not sleeping at work” and not be lying! Additionally, blinking keeps your eyes lubricated.
Not blinking means that your eyes will dry out more often. If that’s something that you’ve noticed bothering you, get some eye drops to keep at your desk to moisturize them often. While that is just treating a symptom of the eye strain rather than rooting out a cause, relief is a relief.
Unless you’re sure that you can consciously make yourself blink more often than you normally would (spoiler: you can’t), you need to make a few changes in your workstation and habits. While change can be hard, making these changes won’t be. They’re both simple and easy. Many of the other tips will cause you to blink more often as a by-product, eliminating multiple stressors at once.
2. Check the Fonts Types of your Computer
If you’re a content creator or web developer, you probably know that what font you choose makes a drastic impact on how much eye strain you endure. Many font families are not ideal for constant and repeated use. What looks great in a screenshot or is fine for a 3-minute-read article might not work for an 8-hour shift of programming or writing.
Choosing a font other than Arial or Helvetica (blasphemy, we know) might make more of a difference than you know. The kerning, spacing, and even shape of various fonts can increase readability and make it so that you don’t have to work as hard to decipher the characters.
As an example, Fonts such as Fira Code, Consolas, and Monoid are designed specifically for long-term usage, legibility, and prevention of eye strain. On top of that, color and size (both independently and in concert) can be one of the largest factors preventing eye strain.
If you have a high-resolution monitor, there’s a good chance that your default font size is pretty small. On top of that, a lot of what you’re reading online and in other places might be low-contrast (light text on a light background). When this is the case, our eyes have to work overtime.
So to fix that, you don’t have to lower the resolution of your screen. No one wants you to give up your screen real estate. Instead, increase the default font sizes in your OS, your code editor, and adjust different web pages in your browser to accommodate larger text. (Usually, CTRL/CMD and +/- will do the trick.)
3. Watch your Computer’s Screen Source Resolution
As a matter of fact, most consumer and user-based gadgets come with a manual guide preference. Although, this one’s tough for some people, us included. Whether it’s a phone screen, laptop, or the circle of computer monitors you have around you, the brightness is probably way too high.
While doing so absolutely makes the colors pop and the whole experience generally much more aesthetically pleasing. Of course, it also strains your eyes at an accelerated rate. You will need to find the balance of brightness that works for you. If the monitors are like lamps in a darkened room, you might have a problem.
But if you’re straining to see and the OS appears dim and dull, you’ve gone too far the wrong way. Once you find the right brightness, though, your eyes will be much better off. Also, if your office or workspace has fluorescent lighting that reflects off of your monitor, you can get screens and filters that you can affix to it so that you can eliminate external brightness and glare, too.
4. Embrace the Dark and Reader Mode Aspects
You also have access to Dark Mode in a lot of apps to make reading easier and adjust the brightness on a software level. MacOS and iOS even have them built-in. This gives you a darker, less-bright screen with a decent contrast ratio of lighter text on darker backgrounds.
It’s easier on the eyes in both daytime and in darker environments. We highly suggest working this way. Dark mode has saved everyone at Elegant Themes a lot of money on headache medicine over the years. You can also try programs like Dark Reader to make any website or app appear in dark mode, whether they support it natively or not.
Also, most browsers (mobile and desktop) have a “reader” mode where the text size, font, and color palette are adjustable with other non-essential elements not rendered. Take advantage of these tools. Your eyes will thank you.
5. Put into Considerations your Seating Posture
Where you are in relation to your screenplays a pretty big role in eye strain, too. Not to mention muscle strain and shoulder/neck aches. You want to be looking at your monitor front-on at eye level. Or, well, slightly below. You shouldn’t have to look up or down to see it. Your neck should be neutral.
Keep this in mind when working on a laptop because you’re going to have your head tilted down a lot of the time. Not only is this bad for your posture, but most screens also have a slightly different look from various angles. Colors shift a little, glare hits it differently, and so on.
You will also want to make sure you’re at the right distance away from your monitor. You ideally want to be between 20 and 27 inches away from your screen. It differs from person to person because of monitor size and setup. Generally, though, you want to be able to just reach out and touch the screen with the tip of your finger from your neutral sitting position.
If you keep it at this distance, you should be able to take the entire screen into view and not have to search all around for points of interest, saving your eyes motion and wear. Sitting too close to the screen won’t make you go blind, unlike what our parents told us when we were kids, but it can make your eyes work overtime. And that leads to easily preventable eyestrain.
6. The Effects of Blue Light on the Eyes
While the jury (read: science) is out on just what effect blue light has on your health and eyes and sleep, the evidence does point toward limiting your exposure to it as being good for your eyes. Most phones these days have a “night mode” which effectively adjusts the color temperature of the screen after certain hours.
You can generally adjust them for any hours or intensity that works for you. It may seem a little odd warming up your screen’s overall tone. But, definitely, you get used to it quickly, and it does make long hours of looking at the screen easier and less taxing.
Additionally, there are blue-light filters that you can hook to your monitor like the anti-glare ones we mentioned above. You can buy special “computer glasses” that supposedly filter out the light, too, which are fine if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses.
For those who need prescription lenses, however, you can ask your eye center about getting the lenses covered in an anti-blue light coating that does the same thing. And bonus, sometimes that coating even makes your eyes flash purple to some people. (No kidding. It’s very surreal for them.)
7. Diet is a Factor in Computer Eye Strain
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who deals with it can tell you just how intrusive it can be. If you have never experienced it from spending too much time in front of a screen, consider yourself lucky. But be proactive about making sure that you don’t.
And if you’re a constant sufferer like many of us, it only takes a little effort and a few tweaks to make some high-quality adjustments. Especially, from the diet intake to the factors above illustrated. Not forgetting, that will make a big difference in your overall well-being. People often believe that failing eyesight is an inevitable result of aging or eye strain.
In truth, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of eye health problems. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), published in 2001, found that certain nutrients—zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene—may reduce the risk of age-related decline in eye health by 25 percent.
This study was updated in 2013 to test different versions of the original formula. The variations included omega-3 fatty acids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene; the study found that certain combinations may work better than others. Further studies agree that omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA), copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin are vital for eye health.
Whether it is your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for an extended period of time.
As screen time increases at home or in the office, so do symptoms. From dry eyes and headaches, to shoulder and neck pain as well as blurred vision, the extent to which an individual will experience visual symptoms often depends on their level of visual ability. And also, the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.
In fact, uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness, astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination, and changes in the eyes due to aging, can all contribute to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen.
Finally, it’s my hope that; from the above-revised article, you’ll play safe. Particularly, around your digital and computerized gadgets.
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In general, this article is still open for more contributions and additions. More so, to make it as useful and as related to me, you or even someone else out there suffering in silence. Please, feel free to Consult Us for more help or even share your thoughts in our comments section below.
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