Know The Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

Many office places have switched their meetings and communication to be almost exclusively online. Unsurprisingly, many work-from-home and virtual employees have found themselves encountering a host of eye-strain issues, a continuing trend that Cornea Specialist, Dr. Steven Rhee of Hawaiian Eye Center warns to take precautions for. 

“Computer vision syndrome isn’t a specific set of symptoms, it’s an umbrella term to describe the varying discomfort and symptoms to the eyes caused by screen-related issues. It is almost impossible to avoid progressive eye strain from regular computer use for work, so adding some basic tools and improvements to your home office is vital to continue working from a screen regularly”, suggested Dr. Rhee.

Studies have estimated that between 70 to 90 percent of workers worldwide who use computers regularly experience symptoms related to computer vision syndrome (CVS). March is designated Workplace Eye Wellness Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to help raise awareness about this common and treatable condition.

CVS, also known as digital eye strain, can occur from extensive use of any device with a digital screen. Symptoms include light sensitivity, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, as well as neck and shoulder pain.

Any combination of the following factors can lead to CVS: uncorrected refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), poor lighting, screen glare, and poor workstation setup for posture and viewing.

Fortunately, there are multiple protective measures that people can take to avoid CVS by simple changes to their office setup and computer habits. Furthermore, Dr. Rhee noted that CVS is an easily treated issue with no scientific evidence of it causing permanent damage to a person’s eyes, regardless of prior screen use in the past.

The first step in protecting yourself from CVS is to correct any refractive error by visiting your eye care professional. According to a report by the AAO, it’s estimated that 8.2 million people in the U.S. suffer from a vision impairment because of an uncorrected refractive error. Having the proper glasses, contact lenses, or surgery to correct these issues will decrease any added strain on your eyes.

Next, make sure to improve your workstation by:

– Positioning your monitor between 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes.
– Adding anti-glare filters over your computer screens and applicable eyeglasses.
– Adjusting your chair to view the screen’s center, just below eye level at a 15 to 20-degree downward angle.
– Changing screen contrast and brightness to a level comparable to the surrounding light.
– Using lower lighting and curtains or blinds to reduce glare in finished surfaces throughout your office.

Finally, follow these simple tips and exercises: take a break from the computer every couple of hours; every 20 minutes, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds (20/20/20 rule); and try over-the-counter lubricating eye drops.

“If CVS symptoms become chronic or difficult to manage, speak with your eye care professional to see if special computer glasses are needed or treatment for dry eyes is recommended,” says Dr. Rhee. 

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