As technology progresses, we find ourselves spending more and more time working or relaxing in front of the screen, putting more strain on our eyes. Devices, such as computers and smartphones, can be major time savers and great entertainers, so it's easy to get carried away and not realise that a prolonged use can have a negative effect on our health as well.
So, what is computer vision syndrome? In this article we'll have a look at what it means and what you can do to prevent it.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain refers to an array of vision problems that can arise when we spend a lot of time in front of the screens of various modern devices. The prolonged exposure to the blue light from devices such as tablets, phones, TVs and other similar devices and the constant struggle to focus on them can cause eye strain and discomfort.
It's not considered a severe condition, but it can still affect your daily life and work, significantly impacting your concentration and productivity. Although CVS is usually not permanent, taking appropriate measures early will make it much easier to manage and will avoid potential health complications in the future.
What are the symptoms of CVS?
There are a number of symptoms that can be experienced by people suffering from this condition, among which are:
- Dry eyes
- Double or blurred vision
- Itchiness and burning sensation in the eyes
- Eye redness
- Sleep disturbances
- While indirectly, poor posture can hurt your neck and shoulders
Some people also experience temporary refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, after long screen exposure which could become permanent without any treatment.
The more time you spend sitting in front of the screen without taking any measures, the more severe the symptoms will be and the more difficult it will be to treat them.
What causes CVS?
Whether you develop CVS and how quickly it will go away depends on your lifestyle. The biggest risk factors are:
- Spending long hours in front of the screen is the most common reason behind CVS. Whether for work or for entertainment, frequently spending more than 4 hours in front of the screen non-stop can cause CVS to appear.
- Bad body positioning and posture can damage your neck and back. Also, sitting with your face too close to the screen can harm your eyes.
- Poor illumination or glare from the screen, which make your eyes work harder to focus and put more strain on them.
How do you treat CVS?
The best thing you can do for yourself and your eyes if you start experiencing discomfort is to take some time off the screen. We understand that unfortunately this is not always possible, especially if you need to do it for work. However, there are still some actions you can take:
- Take breaks as often as possible. If you're at work, try switching to tasks that don't require you to look at the screen. It's always good to remember the 20/20/20 rule, which says that every 20 minutes on the screen we should look at something situated 20 feet (6 metres) away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes time to rest.
- Assume a good posture.
- If possible, use devices with screens that are kinder to the eye, such as those that don't produce blue light, or anti-glare filters. Wearing tinted glasses with a blue blocker filter might also be beneficial.
Visiting your eye specialist can greatly help as well. Some of the treatments they might recommend to you are:
- Eye drops - When we spend long periods of time focusing our eyes on the screen, we don't blink as much and our eyes don't receive the proper lubrication. This can make our eyes feel itchy or irritated, also affecting our concentration when we're at work. Eye drops can help keep your eyes moist and your day productive.
- Prescription glasses - Even if you normally don't require glasses or lenses, they can help your eyes when working in front of the computer. Your optician will be able to assess if you need them and recommend a suitable pair.
- Visual training - This kind of visual therapy might be recommended if you still experience eye discomfort or vision problems after having made the appropriate changes in your lifestyle. A specialist will provide you with a plan of activities to improve your visual abilities.
Although this condition doesn't pose a significant threat to your vision, it can still impact your daily life and productivity. If you need or want to spend long hours in front of a computer, you should take any symptoms you experience into consideration and make the appropriate changes in your lifestyle, checking with your eye specialist if they become difficult to manage.