Computer Vision Syndrome: 4 Tips & Tricks

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), aka Digital Eye Strain, is a catch-all condition that can include a number of uncomfortable feelings you’ve likely experienced after a long day of work. Eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, red eyes, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain are just some of the complaints we’ve heard described by our perpetually computer-tethered patients. It’s not like we can really take digital screens out of the equation, so what can we realistically do to ensure we aren’t completely miserable by the end of each work day?

Breaks are Good. Have a Kit-Kat.

Taking frequent breaks throughout your work day sounds simple enough. But it’s definitely one of those things that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re on a deadline or just in the zone. Taking a break doesn’t have to mean you stepping away from your desk each time. You’ve likely heard of the 20-20-20 rule from your friendly optometrist, but what does it actually mean? Simply put, it means that for every twenty minutes you’re looking at a screen, you should look twenty feet away for twenty seconds. Believe it or not, you can develop symptoms of CVS after just two hours of continuous computer work.

Glazed Donuts, Not Glazed Eyes

Blinking your eyes is not something we’re always conscious of doing. But with computer use, you might have to be. When most of us look at screens, we start to stare and on average, our blink rate drops 60-70%. If you experience burning, watery, red eyes and blurry vision, it may actually be a result of your decreased blink rate. Growing up, I remember my mom always commenting on my red eyes after playing video or computer games. Now we know why! Over time, not blinking frequently or fully can have a direct impact on dry eye syndrome. It’s never too late to start practicing good habits, and that means normal blinking, first and foremost. For some, it may be necessary to incorporate lubricating eye drops and additional eye hygiene.

What’s That Glaring Back At Me?

Computer glare and screen reflections can make viewing uncomfortable and difficult. It may cause you to squint or develop poor posture to compensate. If possible, try adjusting your light source to reduce the glare, but if that’s not possible, you might want to consider an anti-glare screen filter. If you wear glasses at the computer, anti-reflective coating can also minimize the amount of glare off of the front and back sides of your lenses.

Posture Makes Perfect

As careers are becoming more tech-oriented and sitting in front of screens has become commonplace, the importance of ergonomics in the workplace is gaining recognition. Beyond vision, CVS also encompasses back and neck pains associated with computer use as they’re often a result of straining to properly view screens. Simple solutions to implement include a viewing distance between 20-26”, adjusting the monitor height to 15-20 degrees below eye level, and tilting the screen downward to minimize glare. If you wear multifocal glasses, you’ll benefit from lowering your monitor to a comfortable level where you shouldn’t need to tilt your head back to read (designated computer glasses are even better).

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