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Computer Vision Syndrome

January 19, 2010 - Rodney Smith
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is the result of eye and vision problems related to computer use. This is a very real problem for many people who spend hours daily in front of a computer screen. Studies indicate that visual symptoms occur in 50-90% of computer users.

There are a few theories explaining what causes CVS. The most common one is that symptoms occur because our eyes and brain react differently to characters on a computer screen than they do to printed characters. The computer screen is made up of pixels while print is nice black ink on nice white paper.

Another theory is that CVS is caused by decreased blinking. We normally blink 16-20 times per minute. However, studies have shown that this can decrease to as few as 6–8 times per minute when working on a computer. This decrease in blink rate, of course, leads to dry eye.

And ergonomics may play a role as well. Ideally the top of the screen should be at eye level. Too high and it may lead to dry eyes and/or a sore neck.

And just about everybody starting at the age of 40 needs some help with near work.

Of course, it is important to remember that these theories are not mutually exclusive: It is possible to have symptoms of asthenopia and a feeling of tired eyes from a combination of focusing on the computer screen itself, dry eyes, screen set too high and age.

Just as there are various causes for CVS, there are various treatments.

Treatment can include computer glasses. Even if you already wear glasses, you might very well benefit from a pair of computer glasses. The reason being that your everyday glasses are probably not quite right for use on the computer. Most young people wear eyeglasses to correct things far away. Reading glasses are prescribed for near work. Computers, however, are at a more intermediate distance. That means than glasses for far away are not strong enough for this intermediate distance. And that reading glasses are too strong for this intermediate- or computer- distance.

If you are wearing bifocals and on the computer for long periods of time you might want to invest in a pair of glasses specifically prescribed for the computer. These lenses would be set for the appropriate distance and probably include a nice anti-reflection coating to cut down on glare. Remember, there can be other causes to Computer Vision Syndrome then just needing a pair of glasses. Sometimes it is decreased blinking. If that is the case, a conscious effort to blink more and/or an artificial tear is in order. If ergonomics is the problem then making the workstation more ergonomic is the solution.

 
 

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