Back to Health and Wellness

How Computer Vision Syndrome Affects Your Health

Posted on July 19th, 2018

When you sit at a computer all day, you may find that by the end of the day your eyes are tired, you’re mentally fatigued, or your neck muscles are tight and achy. It may be the ergonomics of your desk or your stress level at work; however, there’s a chance it may be computer vision syndrome (CVS). Sometimes referred to as digital eye strain, this disorder can be managed with a few maintenance strategies. But first we must understand what is causing all this stress on our eyes.

How Computer Vision Syndrome Affects You

You may first notice the affects of computer vision syndrome in your eyesight. Left unchecked, CVS can take a toll on your entire body.

Physical Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

  • Sore, itchy eyes
  • Excess eye watering
  • Tired eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Double vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Static Eyes

Your eyes were made to move around and scan your surroundings. In today’s world, we ask our eyes to do something completely different: stay focused on one thing for long periods of time. In a typical day, consider the activities you do that ask your eyes to remain still and tuned into one object. Computer screens, smartphones, TVs, books, and even crafts can be a daunting task for your vision.

Why Stationary is Hard on Your Eyes

Holding your gaze steady on one point can be exhausting, despite how simple it may seem. Consider holding a baseball directly in front of you. At first it would be rather simple, but after a while, your shoulder would begin to ache. Eventually, your entire arm would be tired from holding this position. Even longer and you may begin to shake as your muscles totally deplete. This same weariness affects your eyes.

Computers & Blue Light

The sun emits blue light; therefore, we see the sky as blue. Computers emit this same blue light but in a tighter proximity to our eyes. This light is pouring from your laptop, monitor, television, smartphone, digital billboards, or any of the screens you see in a busy city street. This blue light creates “visual noise” which can cause excessive fatigue. To better understand visual noise, you need to understand how blue light behaves.

The Power of Blue Light

On top of focusing on one point for hours on end, staring at a computer all day adds another layer of detriment: blue light. Blue light is at the far end of the visible spectrum, meaning that it has a short wavelengths and higher photon energy. This light scatters wider and penetrates deeper, making it harder to focus.

Reducing the Effect of Computer Vision Syndrome

There are simple ways to diminish the effect of digital eye strain. Remembering to blink is important and, according to a study, we blink 66% less while at a computer. Ensuring your workspace is beneficial to your vision is important, including the position you sit in relation to your monitor and the lighting.

Desk Ergonomics

If you work at a computer daily, consider the setup and the settings on your computer. Ensure that your font is large enough that you can easily read it without straining. Make sure there is no glare on your screen from overhead, natural, or back lighting. Check that your monitor is 50 to 60 centimetres from your face, and that you do not need to raise or lower your chin to comfortably look at your content.

The 20-20-20 Rule

Giving your eyes a break is important. To safeguard yourself against developing CVS, all you need to remember is 20. Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to stretch out and change their focal range. With regular breaks, your eyes will not become so fatigued over the course of the day. 

Blue Light Filtering Lenses

If your work has you facing a computer for much of the day, you may benefit from a pair of blue light glasses. If you already have prescription glasses, a blue light filter can be added to your lenses. If you do not wear glasses, investing in a pair of work glasses may improve your longevity in front of the screen.

Talk to Your Optometrist

If you work with computers on a regular basis of if you notice fatigued eyes after watching TV or using your smartphone, it may be wise to speak with an optometrist. They can help you choose a pair of blue light lenses, offer a blue light coating on your glasses, or suggest a dedicated pair of specs just for your computer use. It’s important to keep your prescription up-to-date, and to talk through possible management strategies at your next visit. Book an appointment at your local FYidoctors clinic today!

For more information on CVS and blue light, read Blue Light Exposed: How FYidoctors’ New Protective Coatings Can Prevent Damage. For further reading on how technology can affect your vision, read Teens and Their Tech: Be Aware of the Risks.