Computer vision syndrome: do you need glasses?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) refers to a set of eye conditions resulting from the prolonged use of digital screens. Computer vision syndrome isn’t a specific condition but rather an umbrella term for a wide range of eye conditions such as eye fatigue, blurry vision, some refractive errors, and more. All of these situations have a common factor: they often result from staring at electronic screens of computers, tablets, and mobile phones (or any other digital device with a screen) for extended periods. In these instances it is not only the blue light from the screens that affect our eyes, we also tend to blink considerably less when we are in front of a screen, which also contributes to eye strain.
Computer vision syndrome is sometimes referred to as digital eye strain and affects 75% to 90% of computer users. An average worker can spend up to seven hours per day on the computer5. Common symptoms that indicate you may have digital eye strain include:
- Blurred vision
- Neck & shoulder pain
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Eye irritation, which includes red eyes, eye discomfort and itchy eyes.
People will experience more discomfort when they spend more time in front of digital screens. A study on office workers with CVS found a positive correlation between hours of computer exposure and the severity of dry eye symptoms6. If you relate to any of these symptoms, keep reading to learn how you can deal with them and regain your visual health.
7 Computer Vision Syndrome Causes
- Uncorrected Vision Problems
- Improper Viewing Distance and Angle
- Screen Glare
- Poor Lighting
- High Energy Blue Light Exposure
- Poor Posture
- Not Enough Blinking
Risk Factors for CVS
- Spending three hours or more per day looking at a digital screen
- Having vision problems that aren’t corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Wearing corrective lenses that aren’t suitable for the viewing distance of your computer
- Viewing your computer screen or digital device at the wrong angle
- Not taking frequent short breaks after spending 1 to 2 hours in front of the computer
- Positioning your screen, tablet or mobile device too close to your eyes
- Sitting or standing with poor posture
Correcting Computer Vision Syndrome
You’ll be glad to know digital eye strain symptoms are not permanent. Your blurred vision, headache, or dry eyes should go away after a good break from digital screens. However, stepping away from the screens and limiting our screen time is not the best solution, it definitely is not a permanent one and, more importantly, is not really a realistic scenario in today’s technology-driven world. Booking an appointment with a professional optometrist should be the first step on your vision journey as it is the safest way to help you reduce the risk of experiencing those symptoms again.
Once you book an appointment, our optometrist will examine your eyes for dryness, fatigue, eye strain and any relevant concerns, after which they may prescribe computer glasses to reduce your risk of digital eye strain. Keep in mind, these are slightly different from eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed to see far away. Computer glasses are specifically designed for seeing distances at arms length like how you view your computer or laptop. Computer glasses’ purpose is to increase comfort during intermediate vision and protect you from digital screens that lead to computer vision syndrome. We highly recommend choosing lenses that filter high energy blue light and applying a premium anti-reflective (AR) coating to reduce glare and reflections from reaching your eyes1.
Computer glasses lower the amount of work the eye muscles have to do as we stare at digital screens2. When choosing advanced lens upgrades like BluSelect or KODAK Clean ‘N’ CleAR, this reduces the risk of digital eye strain caused by the bright lights from screens, making computer glasses an effective solution to computer vision syndrome.
Computer Vision Syndrome and Red Eyes
Having red eyes after being in front of a screen for a certain amount of time is one of the easiest ways to know you might have computer vision syndrome. Your eyes turning red is actually a fairly common condition known as “bloodshot eyes” in which the blood vessels that are located on the surface of your eyes rupture, are irritated, or inflamed, causing the whites of your eye to turn red or pink. However, bloodshot eyes can also result from several other causes such as rubbing the eyes or sleep deprivation, which can result from an underlying eye condition3. Consulting an optometrist should be the necessary first step to truly determine any condition you might have and the root of your eyes’ discomfort.
Computer Vision Syndrome Eye Drops
Eye drops can also be used to ease recovery from digital eye strain. For example, eye drops like the BioTrue Eyedrop can provide relief for dry eyes. Computer vision syndrome eye drops or artificial tears function similarly to natural tears: they provide instant relief from dryness and eye irritation. They can also be used for cleaning the eyes, thus aiding vision.
Here are a few drops you can choose from to ease digital eye strain and irritation.
Improves tear film, protects the eye surface, and relieves dry eyes.
Protects against moderate dry eyes and digital strain.
Relieves redness and makes your eyes whiter and brighter.
Computer Vision Syndrome Prevention
Computer vision syndrome can be prevented by a set of practices that aim at reducing the degree of digital eye strain. Visiting an optometrist and acquiring a prescribed pair of computer glasses is an excellent way of preventing digital eye strain from becoming a more serious issue. Even if you do not require other prescription glasses for your daily activities, you can still benefit from computer glasses, which can come in non-prescription.
Computer vision syndrome can further be prevented by how your screen is held, the position of the screen, your seating position, and regular breaks. Adjust your digital screen to what makes you feel comfortable. For computer screens, this should be about 15 – 20 degrees below your eye level. Controlling the light sources that are close to you is another helpful tip. You can use blinds to block glare and reflection from windows to customize the level of light in your room and minimize visual fatigue4. You can also include a screen glare filter to lower the glare of your screen. Lastly, ensure you blink regularly and take occasional breaks from screens. These are simple recommendations you can include in your daily routine but having a check-up appointment with your optometrist is a better way to maintain your eye health and ensure you are aware of any possible conditions. Make this a yearly appointment and your eyes will thank you for it!
As expert optometrists, we understand the effect of computer vision syndrome on your eye health and productivity. If you think these symptoms are relevant to what you are experiencing, we recommend you start by booking an eye health exam with us to get the proper care that is needed in these types of situations. This consultation will help us determine the perfect solution for you, and the next steps we should take to make your vision as healthy as possible. Click here to contact us and book a consultation today to discover how we can help you prevent computer eye syndrome. You can also click here to ask us any further questions you might have. Our team of experts will be glad to help you in any way we can!
- All about vision, 2019, How computer glasses can ease digital eye strain, Gary Heiting, OD, and Larry K. Wan, OD
- WebMD, 2021, What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?, Stephanie Watson
- Cleveland Clinic, 2023, Red Eye
- National Library of Medicine, 2008, Understanding and Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome, Associate Professor Dr Loh Keng Yin
- Randolph, SA. “Computer Vision Syndrome.” Workplace Health & Safety, 2017.
- Sánchez-Valerio, MR, et al. “Dry Eye Disease Associated with Computer Exposure Time Among Subjects with Computer Vision Syndrome.” Clinical Ophthalmology, 2020.