What to know about computer vision syndrome

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is the term for a group of eye and vision-related problems that develop following the prolonged use of devices with digital screens.

Devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones put increased demands on a person’s visual system. Using these devices for extended periods without breaks can cause CVS symptoms, including eye strain and headaches.

In this article, we explain what CVS is and outline its causes and symptoms. We also provide tips on how to avoid CVS and when to see an optometrist.

What is it?

The extended use of devices with screens may lead to eye strain and headaches.
CVS describes a group of symptoms that occur following the prolonged use of devices with digital screens. Such devices include:

  • personal computers
  • laptops
  • tablets
  • smartphones

Common symptoms of CVS include eye strain and headaches. A person may also experience neck and shoulder pain as a result of sitting for long periods.

It is not clear how much time a person needs to spend looking at a digital screen to develop CVS. However, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), longer periods of screen use seem to correlate with higher levels of discomfort.

Causes

Computer vision syndrome occurs as a result of prolonged digital screen use.

Digital screens cause a person’s eyes to work harder than normal. Several factors are responsible for this, including:

  • the screen content being less sharp or focused
  • poor contrast of the screen’s content against its background
  • reflections or glare bouncing off the screen

The following factors may also contribute to CVS:

  • viewing the screen in low light conditions
  • being too close to or too far from the screen
  • positioning the screen at an angle that causes eye strain
  • taking insufficient screen breaks

Together, these factors put greater demands on the eyes’ ability to track and focus. These demands are even higher for people who have minor uncorrected vision problems.

If the additional demands on the visual system occur over extended periods, a person may experience symptoms of CVS.

Symptoms

The symptoms of CVS may differ from one person to another. Some common symptoms include:

  • eye strain
  • dry and itchy eyes
  • blurry vision
  • double vision
  • difficulty focusing
  • nearsightedness, also called myopia
  • headaches
  • neck or shoulder pain and stiffness
  • backache

Treatment

The symptoms of CVS will usually go away after a sufficient break from screen use.

However, people who have underlying eye or vision problems will need to treat these problems to prevent future episodes of CVS. Some potential treatment options include those below.

Regular eye examinations

People who do not visit their optician regularly may have undiagnosed vision problems that worsen as a result of prolonged screen use. Others may be using outdated prescription glasses or lenses that are no longer effective in correcting their vision problems.

Regular visits to an optician can reduce the risk of CVS and other vision problems.

Vision therapy

Vision therapy is a form of therapy that aims to develop or improve a person’s vision. It involves the use of eye exercises to improve eye movement and focusing.

Vision therapy may be an option for people who continue to experience CVS and other vision problems despite wearing corrective glasses or contact lenses.

Laser eye surgery

Some people with underlying vision problems may be good candidates for laser eye surgery. This procedure uses lasers to reshape the surface of the eye so that it can focus more effectively.

Prevention

The best way to prevent CVS is to avoid long and uninterrupted periods of digital screen use. However, this is not an option for many people who work at a computer.

The AOA recommend following the 20-20-20 rule when working at a computer. Doing this involves taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes to view something that is 20 feet away. Following the 20-20-20 rule can reduce eye strain from digital screen use.

Other tips for preventing the symptoms of CVS include:

  • positioning the screen at the optimal distance, which will be about 20–28 inches from the eyes
  • positioning the screen at a comfortable angle, with the center of the screen 15–20 degrees below eye level
  • ensuring that there is adequate lighting
  • using an antiglare screen or changing the angle of the screen to avoid glare from lighting
  • remembering to blink regularly enough to avoid eye dryness
  • wearing glasses or lenses to correct any underlying vision problems, where necessary
  • sitting comfortably with both feet flat on the floor and support in place for the arms while typing
  • taking regular rest breaks

When to see an optometrist

In many cases, the symptoms of CVS will go away once a person has spent sufficient time away from digital screens.

To prevent future episodes of CVS, a person should take steps to improve their work environment and adopt healthful screen-management habits.

A person should visit their optician if they continue to experience CVS symptoms despite making the necessary changes to their screen use. Persistent symptoms can sometimes be a sign of an underlying eye condition that requires appropriate treatment.

Summary

Computer vision syndrome describes a group of symptoms that can arise as a result of prolonged screen use. Common symptoms of CVS include eye strain and headaches.

CVS can affect anyone who looks at a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen for long periods without breaks. However, it is particularly prevalent among people who have underlying vision problems.

The symptoms of CVS tend to subside once a person has taken a sufficient break from viewing digital screens. People can prevent future episodes by creating a comfortable work environment and adopting habits to maintain good eye health. Following the 20-20-20 rule is an effective way to reduce the risk of eye strain.

 

Source:

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/computer-vision-syndrome#summary

20/20/20 to prevent digital eye strain. (2016).
https://www.aoa.org/documents/infographics/SaveYourVisionMonth2016-1.pdf
Computer vision syndrome. (n.d.).
https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
Laser eye surgery and lens surgery. (2020).
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/laser-eye-surgery/
Loh, K. Y., & Redd, S. C. (2008). Understanding and preventing computer vision syndrome.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4170366/
Tran, K., & Ryce, A. (2018). Laser refractive surgery for vision correction: A review of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532537/
Vision therapy. (2016).
https://aapos.org/glossary/vision-therapy


Optical Illusions

Optical Illusions can use color, light and patterns to create images that can be deceptive or misleading to our brains. The information gathered by the eye is processed by the brain, creating a perception that in reality, does not match the true image.

Here are a few of our favorites

The awkward dots

A simply brilliant image that plays real havoc with both your eyesight and your brain. This image was shared by Will Kerslake on Twitter with the caption “There are twelve black dots at the intersections in this image. Your brain won’t let you see them all at once.”

 

Confusing shadows

Another brilliant optical illusion created simply by the sun being at a specific place in the sky. This one seems to show oddities in the windows caused by their shadows which makes the building look like it belongs in Inception

 

The revolving snakes

This one is a simple trick of the eye. This is not an animated picture, it’s a static file that shows a mass of intertwined snakes. But if you stare at different sections you’ll see the snakes writhing and squirming

Source :

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/140473-best-internet-optical-illusions-you-won-t-believe-your-eyes.amphtml


Presbyopia – an informative guide

When viewing an object that is far away, the eye – if we are perfectly sighted – is shaped so that the object is clearly focused on the retina. This means that the image is clear. When we look at something close up, for example reading a book, the muscles inside the eye that surround the lens contract to make the lens change shape. This focuses the light from the book onto the retina.

The lens inside a child’s eyes is elastic, and so will naturally alter its shape easily to allow for a change in focus from a distant to near object. As we get older however, the lens will stiffen and so change shape less easily. This means that the distance up to which we are able to focus becomes longer and we are no longer able to focus on things that are close to us, having to hold them further away to see them clearly. This is more noticeable with very close work, for example, when threading a needle. It can also mean that it may take longer for us to focus from looking at something close up to looking at something far away (or vice versa).

This change in focusing tends to become more noticeable when we reach our late thirties or forties as we then find it difficult to focus on things that are at the normal reading distance. It is quite common to see people who are presbyopic holding things away from them in an attempt to see them clearly. As this affects things that are close to us first, our vision of things that are further away – such as the computer – is not affected until later, when the lens has lost almost all of its elasticity.

This loss in elasticity is corrected with spectacles. This may mean having separate pairs for distance and reading and maybe for middle distance such as looking at the computer or reading sheet music.

What is the treatment for presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a natural part of ageing and there is no cure for it. The solution is generally to wear glasses for reading. Because reading glasses focus light from close objects, it is normal to find that distant objects are blurred when looking through them. They can either be removed for distance viewing or alternatively, bifocal or varifocal lenses can be used.

Bifocal lenses consist of two separate areas of the lens which are separated by a line: the top part of the lens focuses light from distant objects, and the bottom part of the lens focuses light from near objects. Varifocal lenses work in a similar way to bifocal lenses but without a visible line on the lens. This is because the power gradually changes from the top to the bottom of the lens, to allow objects at any distance to be seen clearly, simply by moving the head up and down to look through a different part of the lens.

Are there exercises I can do to stop needing reading glasses?

Presbyopia is not caused by muscle weakness but by the lens stiffening as we age. There are no exercises that can help this.

If you have any further questions please contact us