Digital eye strain is an all too common condition that can potentially affect anyone with a digital device. In this day and age, that’s just about everyone.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a bit different than digital eye strain, in that it’s a condition more specific to those who have logged quite a bit of computer time.
CVS is caused by computers. Unfortunately, people whose jobs require sitting in front of a computer for hours on end from Monday to Friday are at quite the disadvantage. The very nature of your livelihood makes you easy targets for CVS.
So, if you’re someone who uses your computer a lot (be it for work or recreation), you’ll definitely benefit from this article. Today we dive into pinpointing the five major signs of CVS, what to do if you have them, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
1. Dry Eyes/Red Eyes
Many people probably don’t even know they have experienced CVS. As students, I’m sure the dry eyes you’ve experienced pulling all-nighters studying were not just any dry eyes.
They were dry eyes caused by having your face glued to a computer screen for hours and hours into the wee hours of the night.
If you find yourself with dry or red eyes at the end of a long work day, chances are it’s a sign of CVS. When we look at a screen, we tend to keep our eyes wide open and to blink less. When we blink less, our eyes don’t receive the moisture they need.
Dry eyes and red eyes sort of go hand in hand in this case. Often when you experience dry eyes you’ll also experience irritation and itchy eyes, which will then lead to redness. Sometimes the eyes can be so dry that the surrounding parts of the eye (i.e. your eye lids) will become red and irritated as well.
There’s a very easy way to fix this. Blink more often and don’t stare at your screen for so long. Give your eyes a break and a chance to regain the lost moisture.
2. Eye Strain and Fatigue
Do you ever stare at your screen for so long that you begin to feel tired? Well that could be due to eye strain. When your eyes strain, they become fatigued and can make your whole body feel out of sorts.
Several factors can cause eye strain when using a computer:
Brightness: The screen brightness can cause quite a bit of stress on the eyes if it isn’t adjusted properly. Bright screens will emit a harmful artificial light called blue light, which can cause eye strain.
The Fix: Adjust the brightness to best match your surrounding light or as close to a natural light as possible. Consider installing a blue light filter.
Font Size: Sometimes the font size on a website or in a document is just way too small. When font sizes are too small, the eyes need to focus even harder to make out the characters and letters. When eyes are focused for too long, they begin to tire.
The Fix: Increase the font size as needed. Don’t worry, no one will think you’re old!
Too Much, Too Long: The biggest reason we experience eye strain and fatigue is because we don’t know when enough is enough. The eyes need time to defocus and doing so periodically throughout the day will actually make you more productive in the long run.
The Fix: Use the 20-20-20 rule! Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Easy as pie.
3. Blurred or Double Vision
Another common sign of CVS is seeing doubles or blurriness. You may not notice it when you’re looking at your computer, but the minute you turn away to look at your desk mate’s new potted plant, everything seems fuzzy around the edges.
If you’ve experienced this it means you’re spending too much consecutive time staring at your computer. Your eyes are defocusing when this happens. Though the blurred and double vision are temporary symptoms, it can lead to eye strain or even an eyeglass prescription misdiagnosis.
The Fix: Use the 20-20-20 rule as well!
Probably the most annoying and disruptive sign of CVS is frequent headaches. These headaches are often caused by eye strain. When the eyes are struggling to focus, so is the brain.
These headaches can come on suddenly and last all day. When this happens, you suddenly go into shut down mode, unable to carry out your work because you can’t even look at the computer without your head screaming. Because these headaches are caused by eye strain, all the pain killers in the world couldn’t help you.
The Fix: The fixes here are the same as to the fix for eye strain and fatigue. Prevent those and you’ll prevent those pesky headaches.
5. Neck, Back and Shoulder Pain
Even though it’s called computer vision syndrome not all signs of this condition will be vision or eye related. CVS can also cause physical pain in the neck, back and upper shoulders.
When these types of pains come along it’s usually because something isn’t positioned right. Either the chair or the computer or both are not placed in a comfortable enough position for someone to spend an entire work day in, working.
The Fix: Reposition, reposition, reposition! It’s recommended that your chair be at a comfortable working position (not too high, not too low) and for your computer monitor or laptop below eye level, 20 inches away from the eye and to be tilted upwards at a 10 to 15 degree angle.
Eliminate your stress of developing CVS by taking preventative measures. Who knows, maybe you’ll become so productive that you’ll get that promotion everyone’s after!
This post originally appeared on Rebuild Your Vision.