Nearly 60% of the Western world use some kind of digital device — a phone, computer, tablet, TV — for at least 5 hours a day. All that screen time can result in eye irritation and dryness. In fact, dry eyes and eye strain have become so common that researchers have coined a name for it: computer vision syndrome (CVS).
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition commonly experienced after staring at a computer screen, at arm's length or closer, for an extended period of time. It is characterized by eye strain and dry eyes.
Because more people work and study at home as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children exhibiting these symptoms.
The symptoms of CVS include:
- Red, watery eyes
- Burning or stinging eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- The feeling of having something in your eyes
Computer vision syndrome symptoms are similar to those found among dry eye syndrome sufferers, a condition that also tends to develop as a result of extended computer use when blinking is reduced. Blinking is critical for good eye health as it rejuvenates the tear film on your eyes, ensuring constant hydration and protecting them from damage.
5 Tips to Prevent CVS
Luckily, computer vision syndrome can be effectively managed with a few simple adjustments to your screen time.
- Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at your screen for too long. Take a break from your computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
- Adjust your angle. Make sure your screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and that the center of the screen is 4-5 inches lower than eye level.
- Use a cool-air humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents your eyes from drying out.
- Reduce glare. Your eyes work harder to read when there is glare reflecting off your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from windows and lighting. You can also add a glare filter for eye comfort.
- Get computer glasses. Computer glasses allow your eyes to focus on a computer screen with less effort and the blue-light filter may also reduce exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.
By taking regular breaks from your screen, you give your eyes and body a much-needed rest. To learn more about computer vision syndrome and to receive treatment to alleviate dry eye symptoms and eye strain, contact The Dry Eye Center of Southern Eyecare Associates.
Q: What's the link between staring at a computer screen and dry eye?
- A: Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try to blink more, especially while using the computer and reading.
Q: Can blue light glasses help avoid computer vision syndrome and dry eye?
- A: Spending long periods of time on a computer or device can negatively affect your eyes, potentially leading to computer vision syndrome and dry eye. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, sleep disruptions, and dry eyes. Computer glasses offer blue light protection by reducing the dangerous effects of blue light and the risks of computer vision syndrome.
The Dry Eye Center of Southern Eyecare Associates serves patients from Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake, all throughout Virginia.