Computer vision syndrome, also known as CVS, has been on every doctor’s radar for a while now. As we become more and more digital with everything we do, we may be putting our eyes and bodies at risk.
CVS has been on the rise and according to an infographic put together by FramesDirect and NowSource, digital device use has grown 50 percent in only two years. You don’t need to be a psychic to know that digital device use will definitely grow in the coming years.
Our eyes did not evolve to adapt to computer screens. In the grand scheme of time, jobs that require computers are still in infancy. Our bodies, and especially our eyes, have not had the time to evolve to accommodate long periods of time spent sat in front of a computer.
What does this mean for our eyes?
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
Let’s start at the source. CVS (sometimes referred to as digital eye strain) describes vision problems that are caused by too much time spent on a computer, tablet, smartphone, or any other digital device.
Don’t think that office workers (or desk jockeys) are the only people affected by CVS. If you have a digital device, you’re also prone to CVS. If you’re living in the 21st century, chances are you have at the very least one digital device (younger people tend to have multiple).
Surprisingly, despite the 40 hours a week of a typical full-time computer-related job, those who don’t work with a computer every day are just as prone. All those hours, after work of browsing Facebook or binging on your new favorite television series is bound to add up. Reining in your digital device use is something everyone needs to do.
According to the Vision Council’s 2016 report, 65 percent of Americans have reported symptoms of CVS. This stat doesn’t even include all the unreported cases.
There’s no doubt that digital devices are the main cause, but what is it about screens exactly? CVS can actually be caused by a number of screen-related issues.
The first is blue light. Most screens emit blue light, which is a light that is quite disagreeable. Our eyes filter out most natural blue light, but when it comes to screens where the light is much more concentrated, our eyes have a harder time filtering.
Another cause is the worsening of an existing vision problem. Sometimes screens can worsen undiagnosed vision problems. The only way around this is to visit your eye doctor regularly to prevent surprise vision problems.
CVS can also be caused by the size of the writing on screens. Unlike the letters on a physical page, the letters on a screen are not well defined (though it may look like they are) and cause our eye to have to focus more in order to read the letters. Aside from that, font sizes are often too small causing even more strain.
Some smaller details that could cause CVS are blinking and misplaced screens. Blinking less can lead to dry eyes. A misplaced monitor or a screen too close to the eye or at a bad angle that forces the eyes to strain to focus can cause a lot of discomfort.
CVS Effects on the Eyes and Body
Whatever the exact cause of your CVS, they all affect the body in a number of ways. Though your eyes for the most part, get the worst of it, the rest of your body can suffer too.
Too much screen time can leave your eyes feeling fatigued. Just like after a good workout at the gym that leaves your muscles sore, excessive time looking at a screen can leave your eyes feeling the same way. Somehow, sore eyes feel much worse than sore arms.
CVS can also cause eye pain and redness in the eye. You know you’ve overexerted your eyes when they start to turn red. This is a cry for rest. When your eyes start to hurt from long hours of looking at a screen, give them a break! Don’t make your CVS worse by pushing through the pain. This isn’t a boxing match.
CVS can also cause sensitivity to light which can in turn cause headaches and eye pain. When your head is in pain, you’re less productive and less likely to be able to concentrate on your work. You may also experience burning eyes and blurred vision.
CVS will take a toll on the rest of your body too. You might experience a sore neck, shoulders and back. This is normally due to poor posture while using a computer. The body and the eyes are connected and one always affects the other.
Tips to Avoid CVS
Luckily, CVS is a highly treatable vision condition. Treatments are simple and don’t often require you to purchase anything! A visit to your eye doctor will help properly diagnose you to pinpoint the exact cause of you CVS; but you might as well check out these tips while you wait for an appointment.
First, place your screen at the right angle. You want it at least 20 to 26 inches away from your face and slightly below eye level. I know that isn’t very specific, but it really depends on each individual. Try it out and if you find that a certain angle isn’t working, try another!
Another thing you need to do is take a break. Breaks are so important for the eyes because it give them the chance to defocus and relax. The same way you give your muscles breaks in between reps, you’re eye need it too. The best rule to follow is the 10-10-10 rule. Every 10 minutes, look at something 10 feet away for 10 seconds.
To best avoid CVS, you want your eyes and screen working in tandem. To do that, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the brightness of your computer. Computer brightness is just too bright. Consider installing a filter on your device to filter out blue light. Many filters will also change the brightness automatically to mimic natural light.
Minimize glare coming off the screen by making sure that no light source is reflecting directly off of the screen. This means dimming light or putting up curtains to minimize sunlight.
CVS is a condition that continues to affect more and more people as the years go on. As our digital lifestyle doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s up to us to make sure we understand the consequences of CVS, how to treat it and how to recognize the signs.