Computer Vision Syndrome and What To Do About It

Posted September 17, 2020


The average American spends seven hours on a computer every day. Our work, classes, entertainment, shopping, and communication all require the use of a computer, phone, or tablet. The amount of time spent on these devices increases every year, but particularly this year as Covid-19 keeps people home and schools online. This prolonged exposure to blue light and glaring screens introduces a modern problem for our eyes.


What is Computer Vision Syndrome

Also known as digital eye strain, computer vision syndrome (CVS) describes a group of vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. A common condition, CVS affects 50%-90% of people who work regularly with a computer. However, this syndrome can further impair pre-existing vision problems and should therefore not be ignored.


CVS Symptoms

Though usually not serious, the following symptoms of this syndrome become uncomfortable and distracting. Eventually, however, they should fade and if you experience long-term symptoms, contact your optometrist right away. CVS symptoms include:

  • Blurred/double vision
  • Eye twitching
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Eye ache
  • Water eyes
  • Dry/itchy/irritated eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Neck/shoulder/back pain


What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome

When we use a computer or other devices with a screen, our eyes follow the same path around the screen over and over. This only gets worse with time. Since our eyes are constantly focusing and refocusing, they get a pretty good workout and, like any muscle, become strained and tired. 

Though this pattern also occurs during activities like reading a book, computers compound it through blue light and glare. Both cause undue amounts of stress to our ciliary muscles, leading to a number of the above symptoms. 


How to Reduce Your Risk

Using the tips below can lower your risk of developing symptoms of computer vision syndrome and make your screen time both less damaging to your eyes and more enjoyable all around.

  1. Regular eye tests. An optician will keep abreast of your general eye health and make sure that it is as comfortable and clear as possible. Regular exams also allow your eye doctor to keep a record of your vision and any changes that may be occurring. 
  2. Rest your eyes. Take breaks regularly when you are working on your computer. Focus and stare into space occasionally to give your eyes a break. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus on something 20 feet away. 
  3. Correct lighting. Excessively bright screens or lighting in the room increases eye strain. Try matching your screen to the level of brightness of the room and use blinds or drapes to block out glare from the sun.
  4. Anti-glare protection and blue light. Anti-glare screen covers reduce the harshness of your monitor screen. Whether you already wear glasses or not, try lenses that are anti-reflective. These reduce glare and are therefore easier on the eyes. Blue light glasses are also a must for anyone sitting in front of a computer screen every day. These precautions protect your vision from the harmful and damaging high-energy wavelengths that this kind of light puts out. 
  5. Keep your distance. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the monitor where you can easily read all the text with your head and torso in an upright position and your back supported by the back of the chair. Usually 20-28 inches from your eye to the surface of the screen is optimum.


As we work from home, watch Netflix, or help our children adjust to classes outside the school building, take the time to protect your vision and health. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have. If you ever experience symptoms that are either prolonged or unusual, always contact your optometrist. You can schedule an appointment at either our Christiansburg or Salem location. 

New Patient?

New to Invision or just want more info? We make it easy for you.

Start here