Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a problem involving your eyes and vision that occurs when you spend too much time on the computer. Going by this definition, nearly everyone in the world suffers from CVS.
Whether you work all day on the computer or you spend all day hanging out on Facebook or playing online games, you probably have suffered from CVS at some point. Don’t think so? Do you get frequent headaches or neck pain while you’re on the computer? Do your eyes feel strained and uncomfortable and maybe your vision gets a little blurry from time to time? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you have computer vision syndrome.
In the following video, Dr. James Hamblin, Health Editor at The Atlantic, takes a look at CVS with a humorous perspective. But, joking aside, he does leave us with a few seriously useful tips:
So, when you first heard the words ‘computer vision syndrome’ you probably thought it sounded like some made up illness, didn’t you? As you saw from the video, though, it’s definitely not made up. It’s a real condition with symptoms and everything. Some of the common symptoms were mentioned briefly in the video, but here is a full list:
- Dry eyes
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Eye strain
- Blurry vision
Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome
The symptoms of CVS can be brought on by several different things such as sitting where there’s not very good lighting or maybe there’s a glare on your computer screen. If your monitor sits too close or too far away from you, or you have poor posture – these can all contribute to the severity of your symptoms. Pre-existing vision problems can also cause you to experience CVS symptoms.
The symptoms you experience will vary depending on how many of the factors above are coming into play, and how long you spend staring at the computer. If you have vision problems already, this can play a part in how you are affected by CVS. It’s also possible that you may not even know yet that you have a vision problem and that unknown problem is contributing to the CVS symptoms you’re experiencing.
CVS is not something to become overly concerned about as far as lasting effects go because the symptoms are usually temporary and will get better when you have taken some time away from the computer. Although, if you continue to experience vision problems even after you have taken some time away from the computer, you may need to see an ophthalmologist to make sure there’s not something more serious going on.
Treatment for CVS
Reducing or eliminating the symptoms of CVS is actually really easy. As Dr. Hamblin says, there are just a few steps you need to take and a few things to keep in mind:
- Remember to Blink
- Take Breaks – Frequent Breaks
- Maintain Good Posture
- Keep Feet Flat on Floor
- Take Breaks
- Adjust Screen Position
- Take Breaks
Remember to blink. A lot. And then blink some more. Your eyes can become dry when you’ve been staring at the computer for a long period of time because you don’t blink enough. Blinking will help to moisten your eyes and reduce the dry eye feeling.
Adjust the lighting in your computer area. Position your computer so that any windows in the room are to the side of you and not in front of or behind you and close the blinds or pull the curtains closed. This will help to eliminate glare on your screen from the window. Bright overhead lighting can also cause glares and mess with your eyes, so use a desk lamp and make sure it’s shining on your desk and not in your direction.
Take breaks often. Taking a lot of breaks throughout the day will give your eyes a chance to rest and will give the rest of your body time to stretch and move around so you don’t get stiff and sore.
Reposition your monitor. Your monitor should sit at least 20 inches away from your eyes and four to six inches below your eyes. This will also help to relieve eye strain, blurry vision, headaches, and neck pain because you won’t have your head tilted too far up or down or at some other weird angle.
Don’t forget to take breaks!
Correct your posture. Don’t slouch at the computer. Sit up straight as far back in the chair as you can with your feet placed flat on the floor. Your knees should be even with or slightly below your hips. Position your keyboard so that it is centered for you and sit as close to it as possible. Your shoulders should be nice and relaxed, your elbows are slightly bent, and your arms and wrists are straight. This will help with the neck and shoulder pain as well as back pain.
And, of course, take lots of breaks!
Take Care of Your Eyes
Your eye health should be near the top of your priority list. Always make sure you receive regular eye exams, and if you are suffering from CVS symptoms, you should have your eyes examined even if you already wear corrective lenses. It could be possible that either your prescription has changed, meaning your vision has gotten worse (or better in some cases), or you may need a separate prescription strictly for computer usage.
Another thing that might help your eyes recover from Computer Vision Syndrome is to incorporate an eye-healthy supplement into your diet. There are certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can help your eyes stay healthy longer and decrease your chances for developing age-related eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.