Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

Particularly right now, when so many employees are working from home, a great many people are spending even more time than usual looking at a computer screen. Whether you’re in Zoom meetings from morning until night or you’re looking at spreadsheets for hours on end, your eyes can suffer from looking at a screen for too long. 

Dr. Anup Deol has treated many patients with computer vision syndrome (CVS) at the Eyecare Center of Snohomish. Usually, she discovers the issue during your regular eye exam, either because she sees symptoms or because you describe them.

CVS is more than one problem

Computer vision syndrome isn’t one condition. It can cause a variety of vision problems as well as problems with your eyes, head, and neck. All of the problems have a common cause, though, and that is eye strain. 

You might experience dry eyes, pain in your neck or shoulders, blurry vision, soreness in your eyes, or headaches due to CVS. If you have other problems, such as near- or farsightedness, you may experience a worsening of those problems as well as other complications. Luckily, scientists don’t think CVS causes permanent damage to your eyes, but it can certainly make you uncomfortable.

What happens when you have CVS

When you look at your screen, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone screen, your eyes must constantly refocus and react to moving and changing images. Additionally, screens often have glare and images and videos flicker. 

Compounding the problem, experts have discovered that people blink much less when looking at a computer screen than at other times. Not blinking can lead to dry eyes. And if you’re over age 40, your eyes become less flexible, making all of the problems associated with CVS that much worse. 

How to save yourself from CVS

Don’t worry! You can take steps to prevent CVS, even if you’re spending many more hours than usual at your computer. Here are a few important things to do. 

Apply the 20-20-20 rule

This is an easy way to remember to give your eyes a break. Every 20 minutes — use a timer if you need to — look at something that’s about 20 feet away from you for about 20 seconds. 

During each short break, note whether your eyes feel dry. If they do, use some eye drops. Dr. Deol can give you guidance on which drops may work best for you. 

Examine your computer setup

Are you looking down at your screen? That’s rough on your neck and your eyes. Adjust your chair height, desk height, and screen height so you’re looking nearly straight ahead when you’re in front of your screen. 

If there’s glare on your screen, try arranging your work area so it goes away. Adding a lamp, turning off an overhead light, or moving away from a window are all small actions that can cut down on screen glare and give your eyes a break. 

Check your screen settings

Your eyes may prefer a slightly dimmer or brighter screen, but you may not have thought to adjust it. You may also want to fine-tune contrast and font size. Play with your settings to see if these simple changes feel better for your eyes. 

Getting regular eye exams can help you avoid CVS as well. A comprehensive exam is a time for Dr. Deol to check the health of your eyes, make sure your prescription is accurate, and, importantly, answer any questions you may have.

If you’d like to learn more about computer vision syndrome or if it’s time for your regular eye exam, schedule an appointment at Eyecare Center of Snohomish. You can book one online or call our office in Snohomish, Washington, Monday through Thursday.

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