The Facts About Computer Vision Syndrome

Dr. Justine Fung |

Every day I have patients coming into my office suffering from headaches, eye strain and blurred vision that comes and goes.  They have gone their whole life without glasses but now, by the end of the day, they can’t seem to hold their focus.  What’s my first question to them?  I ask them how many hours a day they spend on the computer.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a common eye condition that describes vision problems and ocular discomfort due to extended periods of time in front of the computer.  There is an increasing number of people who work in office environments that require them to sit at a computer for over 6 hours a day.  When the eye views a computer screen at near, our focusing system is forced to work harder by adjusting the eye muscles to meet the visual demands.  Prolonged computer use results in eye fatigue, eventually leading to a number of symptoms.  Patients suffering from CVS often complain of headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and occasional blurry vision.

Although the main cause of CVS is the amount of time spent in front of a screen, there are other factors that may contribute to the severity of the symptoms.  Having a small uncorrected glasses prescription can cause difficulty focusing at the computer, even though it may go unnoticed when looking into the distance.  Also, poor eye coordination abilities, the aging eye, and improper viewing distances can all result in eye strain.

So what to do when we experience CVS?  The 20-20-20 rule was developed as a quick temporary fix for computer vision syndromesymptoms.  It recommends that every 20 minutes we should take 20 seconds to look away from the computer and give our eyes 20 good blinks.  A visit to your optometrist will help determine the main causes of your CVS.  The optometrist may recommend glasses to be worn just at the computer or some exercises to strengthen the focusing system.  If CVS is left untreated, it can lead to the distance vision becoming blurred as well. 

Many of us can’t avoid working on our computers all day but a few simple changes can make it easier on the eyes!