Understanding Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a group of eye problems. The problems can include eyes that itch and tear and are dry and red. Your eyes may feel tired. You may not be able to focus well. With CVS these problems are the result of a lot of computer use. Use of e-readers and smart phones may also cause these problems. CVS is very common. Both children and adults can have symptoms of CVS.
What causes computer vision syndrome?
Reading text on a screen is harder for the eyes than reading printed text. This is why working on a computer can cause eye problems, but reading a book may not. People also tend to blink less when using a computer than when reading printed text. This can cause dry eyes, which can also contribute to computer vision syndrome.
Many factors can lead to computer vision syndrome, such as:
Spending several hours a day at the computer
Vision problems (even minor ones) not corrected with lenses
Wearing glasses not suitable for viewing your computer screen
Poor posture while using the computer
Glare from the computer screen
Sitting too close to the screen
Positioning the screen at a wrong angle
Not taking breaks while you are working
Using an older-style monitor instead of a flat-screen monitor
Dry eye and CVS
Dry eye is a condition where you don’t make enough tears to wet the eye. If you have dry eye, this can make CVS worse or more likely. Dry eye is more common in women, and with age. Some medicines and health problems make dry eye more likely. For example, using antihistamines may lead to dry eye. Thyroid disease and some autoimmune diseases may also lead to dry eye.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome
Computer vision syndrome can cause symptoms such as:
Most of these symptoms last a short time, and lessen or go away when you stop using your computer. In some cases, symptoms may last for a longer time after using a computer.
Symptoms may be mild to severe. This depends on how long you use the computer and other eye problems you may have. Symptoms can get worse without treatment.
Computer use can also lead to neck and shoulder pain. This is often because you may have poor posture when using your computer. Some healthcare providers also consider these symptoms of CVS.
Diagnosing computer vision syndrome
An eye care health provider diagnoses CVS. He or she will ask about your symptoms and your health history. You’ll be given an eye exam. You may have tests to check the sharpness of your vision and how well your eyes focus and work together. Eye drops may be used to enlarge (dilate) your irises. This is to help the doctor see into your eye. He or she may use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of your eye. You may also have blood tests. These are to check for health problems that can cause dry eye and lead to CVS.
March 17, 2018
Agarwal S, Goel D, Sharma A. Evaluation of the factors which contribute to the ocular complaints in computer users. J Clin Diagn Res. 2013;7(2):331-5., Rosenfeld M. Computer vision syndrome: a review of ocular causes and potential treatments. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2011;31:502-15.
Bogus, William J., OD, FAAO,Haupert, Christopher L., MD,Image reviewed by StayWell art team.