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Computer Vision Symptoms

Recognize the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

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Updated November 13, 2012

If you spend a significant amount of time on a computer each day, you might experience symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms appear because the eyes and brain react differently to words on a computer screen than they do to printed text. Visual symptoms related to computer use can be caused by visual disorders, poor workplace conditions and individual work habits. If you are having trouble with your eyes while using a computer, compare your symptoms with the list below. You may be suffering from computer vision syndrome.

Eyestrain

Eyestrain, or asthenopia, may be caused by many different environmental and visual conditions. When focusing continuously on a near task, such as working on a computer or reading a book, the muscles of the inner eye may tighten. This tightness can cause eye irritation and produce symptoms such as fatigue, red eyes, eye pain, blurred vision, headache and double vision.

Solution: Take a break. Give your eyes a rest by focusing on a distant object at least once every hour.

Blurry Vision

Blurred vision is a loss of sharpness of vision and the inability to see small details. Blurry vision is sometimes related to the inability of the eyes to steadily focus on a computer screen for a significant amount of time. Also, vision may be blurred by constantly changing focus, such as looking back and forth between the keyboard and the computer screen. However, if you are nearing the age of 40, blurry vision may be caused by presbyopia. Presbyopia is the loss of the eye's ability to change focus to see near objects and is a normal condition associated with aging.

Solution: Consider purchasing a pair of computer glasses. Computer glasses are prescribed to increase your comfort level while at the computer.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes result from a lack of moisture in the eyes. Tears replenish moisture to the eye by way of blinking. Blinking is one of the fastest reflexes of the body. However, people tend to blink about half as much as normal when they are working on a computer.

Solution: Blink more often. Also, replenish moisture in the eye by using artificial tears.

Headaches

You may develop a headache after staring at a computer screen for a significant amount of time. The brightness and contrast of the monitor may produce an indirect glare that is hard on the eyes. Direct glare, light that shines directly into the eyes such as overhead lights and light from windows, can also cause eyestrain and headaches.

Solution: Make sure the brightness and contrast of your computer monitor are at comfortable viewing levels. Also, avoid direct glare from windows and lighting.

Double Vision

Double vision, or diplopia, is the perception of two images from a single object. Staring at a computer screen for too long may cause double vision.

Solution: A pair of computer glasses may prevent double vision. (Double vision can also be a sign of a severe vision or neurologic problem, so a complete eye exam is required.)

Back and Neck Ache

Since the eyes lead the body, we may sit in awkward positions while at the computer to compensate for visual problems as they occur. Slumping or slouching can lead to neck and back pain. Also, if you wear glasses with a bifocal while at the computer, you may unknowingly be tilting your head in various ways in order to see the screen clearly, resulting in physical pain.

Solution: Use proper posture. Be aware of the way you hold your body while at the computer. Posture problems are often relieved by wearing proper glasses. Also, evaluate your computer station for good ergonomics.

With the popularity of computer use steadily increasing, computer vision syndrome has become a common vision complication. Many people are seeking relief from unpleasant symptoms of CVS, including eyestrain and irritation. However, any type of vision symptom should be checked by your optometrist or ophthalmologist to rule out a possible underlying cause.

Source:

American Optometric Association (AOA). Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms. AOA, 2006-09.

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