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Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome is the name given to the eye problems caused by prolonged computer use and can cause evaporative tear loss. The symptoms are eye irritation, dry, itchy, red eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, contact lens problems, headaches , back and neck aches, and muscle fatigue. However, the good news is, it won’t cause any permanent damage to the eyes. The causes are an unsuitable work/home, computer/office environment and improper use of glasses and/or contact lenses.

Two billion dollars are spent each year on examinations and special eyewear by those seeking relief from the visual symptoms associated with CVS. This represents a significant unmet public health need, as well as a growth opportunity for practitioners. To prevent CVS, changes should be made to the environment so as to reduce glare and harsh reflections on the computer. Closing window shades, changing the contrast or brightness on the screen, and attaching a filter or hood to the monitor should help in reducing glare.

It is also important to adjust the computer screen to improve the comfort of the eyes at an arm’s length away (20-26 inches) and center the monitor lower than eyes (4-8 inches) to allow the neck to relax and decrease the exposed surface of the eye, which lessens dryness and itching. Placing reference materials close to the screen will lessen the need to constantly refocus the eyes, and reduce head swinging back and forth. One should also improve posture to reduce strain on back, neck, shoulder and eyes by adjusting chair height. Sitting straight against a backrest with forearms on arm-rest and elbows bent 90-degrees helps. While at the computer try and give your body and eyes frequent breaks to reduce eye and muscle fatigue. Take mini-breaks by looking up and blinking frequently, standing and stretching does wonders as well.

71% of people with CVS wear glasses or contact lenses and report more eye neck and back strain. Improving the way people use and wear their glasses/contacts is important. It is recommended that people should have a full exam by an EYE MD or Ophthalmologist. Lastly an exam, to rule out various types of dry eye conditions or other disease. Eyeglasses should be carefully evaluated, they need to sit properly on the face. When glasses are fitted, the optician checks the optical center of the lens, frame size, symmetry, and nose pads. If glasses continually slip down, the patient no longer looks through the optical center which changes the prescription, and can cause blurring and eye strain. Bifocal, trifocal and progressive lens wearers need to be especially aware of the fit of their lenses.

Lastly, computer screens should be liquid crystal display screens — LCD flat-screens which are more “eye friendly.”