Spend a lot of time in front of a computer? You may suffer from CVS – short for Computer Vision Syndrome. The symptoms are probably familiar: headaches, blurred vision, eyestrain, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.
The more you stare at a screen, the more likely you’ll have CVS symptoms. Especially if you already have vision problems: farsightedness, aging eyes with cataracts or “presbyopia” (the reason the 40+ crowd reaches for their reading glasses), astigmatism or trouble focusing. Poor lighting, screen glare, poor posture or sitting too close or too far from your monitor can also make symptoms worse.
Computer viewing is demanding on your eyes. The distance and viewing angle between your eyes and monitor aren’t the same as reading a magazine or book. Pixilated print is typically not as sharp as type in printed materials. And screens can cause further strain due to reduced contrast, flashing, light reflections or glare.
If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, your prescription was likely calibrated to read a chart 20 feet away, not a computer screen 20 inches in front of you. Adjusting to the shorter distance can put strain on your eyes. If you have multifocals, you may tilt your head forward or backward to see your computer screen clearly.
The cure for CVS is simple: get away from your computer. But if you must spend hours staring at a screen, symptoms will continue to recur and may worsen over time. If CVS has become “a pain in your neck,” here are some things to consider:
It’s also important to see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam if you’re experiencing CVS symptoms. Mention how much time you spend at your computer and what symptoms you’ve been having. Your optometrist can test for CVS and advise you on treatment options. Your doctor may prescribe glasses designed specifically for computer use, suggest special tints or antireflective coatings, or talk with you about vision therapy.
Staring at pixels is inevitable in this day and age – you’re doing it right now. But it doesn’t have to lead to CVS when you take the right steps.