Computer Vision Syndrome?
How to minimize the impact of increased hours spent in front of the screen.
With COVID-19 causing stay-at-home recommendations and virtual meetings, people are in front of a screen now more than ever. Computer vision syndrome is a group of vision and eye-related problems that come from extended periods of screen time—be it on a computer, cell phone, or other digital devices.
Nearly 60% of Americans use digital devices for five or more hours each day and 70% of Americans use two or more devices at a time. Sixty five percent of Americans report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain1.
Viewing a computer screen is not the same as reading a printed page. Computer letters are often not as clear as the written word, and glare can be a problem as well. Viewing distances and angles are different than holding a book, creating a different demand on the eyes. Eyeglasses, particularly bifocals, may not be suited for the angle or distance to the computer screen, adding to eye strain. Additionally, uncorrected or undercorrected vision problems can become worse when viewing screens. According to the American Optometric Association, those at greatest risk of developing computer vision syndrome are those who spend two or more continuous hours on the computer per day.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
For a majority of individuals these symptoms are temporary and will go away when computer work has stopped. Those individuals who are experiencing lingering symptoms should see an eye care professional for help. A comprehensive eye exam can be utilized to help diagnose computer vision syndrome. 90% of patients do not talk with their eye care provider about computer vision syndrome symptoms.
Recommendations to minimize the impact of hours in front of a screen include:
- Maximize lighting and minimize screen glare
- Place your screen at the most efficient distance and level for eye comfort - Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer screen when their eyes are looking downward.
- Make sure your chair and desk are at a comfortable level – Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Adjust your computer display settings—brightness, color, and text size
- Keep key objects — such as your telephone or printed materials — above the keyboard and below the monitor
- Blink often
- See your eye care specialist to ensure vision is corrected as needed
- Consider blue light filtering glasses
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Treatment for some individuals will include prescription eyeglasses. These individuals may not require glasses for activities of daily living but will benefit from glasses that are specialized for computer screens. If you don’t require corrective lenses, some blue light coatings can be applied to non-prescription eyewear. Your eye care provider will be able to recommend the best course of treatment.