Computer Eye Strain

Regardless of age, there are very few individuals who don’t spend a couple of hours a day on the computer. Intense computer viewing may result in computer vision syndrome (CVS). While CVS does not result in permanent eye damage, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Squinting
  • Headaches
  • Dry, itchy, watery, or burning eyes
  • Pain or stiffness in the neck, back, or shoulders
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Distorted color perception
  • Sensitivity to glare

“CVS is being recognized as a consequence of prolonged viewing on a computer involving generated text as well as images,” said Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International. Individuals who are experiencing visual fatigue and other vision related symptoms should try to take breaks from the computer every 15 to 20 minutes. If possible, try to limit your computer use to five or six hours a day.

If symptoms still persist, you should consult with an eye doctor -- optometrist or ophthalmologist – as you may need a dedicated pair of computer glasses. “A progressive lens that functions as a distance, reading and computer pair of glasses may help,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “There may also be the need for glare control, which may include an anti-glare coating for the lenses.”

If you are experiencing CVS, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Use Proper Lighting/Reduce Environmental Glare

  • Eliminate any glare on the screen from the windows in your home or office. If possible, close the blinds or drapes or move the screen away from any light source.
  • Ensure there is no glare from the overhead lights.
  • Purchase a glare filter for the screen if there still is a problem.

Positioning Your Computer Monitor

  • Place your computer monitor approximately 20 to 28 inches from your eyes.
  • Your computer monitor should be set approximately 15 to 20 degrees down from your eye.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • All reading material should be measure for the proper working distance.
  • Your desk height should be approximately 26”.
  • Your arms should be a positioned at a right angle (90 degree position) when typing on the keyboard.

Adjusting Your Computer Settings

  • Adjust the brightness and contrast setting on your computer monitor to your preference.
  • Change the font size on your computer monitor or tablet.
  • Change the font style on your computer to “sans serif” or “bold face” to make for easier reading.
  • Replace your old CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor for a higher resolution monitor. This will afford the highest black and white and color contrast.

Take a Break!

  • There is a 20-20-20 rule for computer use: After 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds and your day should be a lot less tiring.
  • The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that computer workers take, at a minimum, four 5-minute breaks in addition to the customary two 15-minute breaks during the day.
  • The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a 15-minute break for every two hours of computer use.
  • Don’t start moving closer to the monitor if you can’t see the screen clearly.

Get Computer Glasses

  • See your eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) about computer glasses for your specific working distance.
  • Ask about special lenses for the computer, including bifocals or progressive lenses.
  • Discuss the addition of a tint on your glasses to reduce glare.
  • Discuss dry eye treatment if you’re experience discomfort when working on the computer.



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