Do Computers Cause Eye Strain?
May 3, 2022
Seems like we all spend hours staring at computer screens for work or entertainment nowadays.
If you do, you may be suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a term used to describe computer screen-caused eye strain and discomfort. Up to 90% of people who work or play at a computer screen experience it.
CVS is like any repetitive motion injury. It occurs when your eyes follow the same path over and over and gets worse the longer you do it. When you work at a computer, your eyes focus and refocus continually as you read, requiring eye muscles to work hard. The strain is aggravated by computer screens’ flicker and glare. Complicating the situation, we tend to blink less when using a computer, which causes the eyes to dry out, blurring vision.
The symptoms of CVS are clear: blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain.
Here are five things you can do to improve your symptoms and prevent new ones:
- Cut the glare. Adjust the lighting around you to reduce the effect on your computer screen. If window light causes glare, move your monitor and close the shades. If overhead fixtures are too bright, try dimming overhead lights or buy a desk lamp with a moveable shade that casts light evenly over your desk. You can also add a glare filter to your monitor.
- Rearrange your desk. The best position for your monitor is slightly below eye level, about 20 to 28 inches away from your face. You shouldn’t have to stretch your neck or strain your eyes to see what’s on the screen. Put printed materials you need while working on a stand next to your monitor, reducing the eye strain from looking at the screen and printed matter on different levels.
- Take a break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Blink often to keep your eyes moist. If they feel dry, use eye drops.
- Adjust your settings. You don’t need to use the computer’s factory settings if they make you uncomfortable. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size until you find what works best for you.
- Get your eyes checked. Get an annual eye exam and make sure your eye prescriptions are up to date. Discuss problems with your eye doctor. You may need glasses or contact lenses. Discuss whether you can wear your regular glasses for computer work or should get a special pair. Doctors are increasingly prescribing specially coated lenses to protect your eyes from computer use.
While you’re at it, take precautions to protect your children, too. Make sure any computers they use are set at the right height and in the best light. Remind them to take routine breaks from the screen to rest their eyes. And get your kids’ eyes checked.
Get the care you need