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In this time and age, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for unimaginable hours. And as we sit in front of the computer – staring at it (and working on it) for hours at a time, it puts a strain on our eyes, which leads to severe eye complications. Eye problems that are caused because of the continuous use of computers are collectively called computer vision syndrome. It has been seen that most of us show at least a few symptoms of CVS, if not all. And CVS can affect not just adults but even children who use a computer, tablet, or mobile for long periods of time.
What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome, which is also known as digital eye strain, is a condition that occurs when the eyes are strained due to the use of computers for long hours. People who use computers, tablets, smartphones, or read e-books for endless hours can suffer from computer vision syndrome.
What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVC) can be caused due to several factors. Some of the common ones are mentioned below.
- Working on the computer, using tablets or smartphones for long hours
- Not blinking the eyes often while using gadgets
- Not enough light or poor light in the room
- Incorrect sitting posture
- Having weak eyesight
- Not enough distance between the eyes and the screen
- Old age
What Are the Symptoms of CVS?
You may notice the following symptoms if you have computer vision syndrome:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dryness of the eye
- A burning sensation in the eyes
- Irritation in the eyes
- Redness in the eyes due to itchiness
- Headaches, nausea, and dizziness
- Pain in the neck and shoulder region
How Is it Diagnosed?
Although digital eye strain or CVS is not a very serious condition, it can cause some uneasiness and pain. Therefore, getting it diagnosed by an ophthalmologist is important. Below mentioned are some tests and procedures that the medical practitioner will conduct to rule out digital eye strain.
- The doctor will first ask the patient a few questions regarding the pre-existing eye problem, medicines that the patient may be taking on a daily basis, and the number of hours that the patient spends working at the computer every day.
- After a thorough assessment, the doctor will conduct a visual test using the Snellen chart to get an idea of the patient’s visual acuity. This will help the doctor understand and find out the reason behind the patient’s eye strain.
- The doctor will then examine the patient’s eyes by dilating the pupil and observing the eyes through an ophthalmoscope; this will help him determine any other eye problems. He may also conduct refraction tests to prescribe power glasses, if required, and to counsel the patient on how digital eye strain can be avoided. Sometimes, he may even ask the patient to take blood tests to rule out certain underlying health issues which may be causing CVS.
- The last test is an eye focus test. As the name suggests, this test is done to understand and determine the focus of the eyes and to assess the movement of the eyes while focussing on an object.
How to Treat Digital Eye Strain
Although digital eye strain or CVS is not considered a serious condition, it can pose problems in the long run if left untreated. Therefore, here are some ways to cure computer vision syndrome.
- Make sure after working on the computer or using a digital gadget for two hours or more, you give rest to your eyes by closing them for 15-20 minutes.
- Follow the 20:20:20 rule to provide relief to your eyes. Looking away from the screen of the computer or the digital device after every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and focusing at an object which is 20 feet away will keep eye strain at bay.
- If the text you are reading on the computer or on your smartphone seems small, increase the font size. This will prevent eye strain.
- Avoid glaring lights on the computer screen. Change the position of your desk or yourself in order to avoid it. Use a screen glare filter to avoid straining your eyes while using the computer.
- Placement of the computer screen should be such that when you look at it, it is 4-5 inches below your eye level.
- Right placement of the computer screen is the key to avoid eye strain. Therefore, place it at least 20 -28 inches away from the eye.
- While working on the computer, keep blinking your eyes.
- If required, you can use eye drops to lubricate your eyes. However, ask the eye doctor before using it.
- If you have an eye infection or allergy, consult a doctor immediately.
- If you have dry eyes, take prescribed medicine for an increase in tear production.
CVS can be prevented by following a few simple tips. Listed below are a few tips for computer vision syndrome prevention.
- Put an anti-glare or matte screen filter against your computer screen, tablet, or smartphone.
- After every half an hour or an hour, take a break and look away from the screen.
- Use lubricating eye drops prescribed by an eye doctor if you suffer from dry eyes.
- In order to keep your eyes moist, place a humidifier near the screen.
- Remember to wear glasses if you have been prescribed power glasses.
- Practice eye exercises every day.
- Eat foods that are rich in beta carotene and Vitamin A.
- Consult an eye specialist every six months.
1. Who Is at a Greater Risk of Suffering From CVS?
Anybody can develop computer vision syndrome; however, the following people are at greater risk –
- People who work on the computer every day for long hours or the ones who use electronic gadgets like smartphones, I-pads, tablets, etc to play games or watch videos.
- People who are seated too close to the screen of the device.
- People who have an incorrect posture while sitting on the chair and working on the computer or any digital device.
- People with poor eyesight who don’t wear power glasses.
- People who use their digital gadgets from a wrong angle.
- People who do not blink enough number of times or do not take breaks in between while at the computer or other digital devices.
2. Is CVS Permanent?
Computer vision problem is not a permanent problem. Usually, the symptoms go away after a few hours. However, some people may experience the symptoms for a much longer time than the usual.
It is not possible to stay away from the computer or other electronic devices in the digital era. However, keeping your eyes healthy and making a few lifestyle changes can really help in preventing eye strain.