2021 Update: Computer Vision Syndrome

Dr. Russel Lazarus, April 25, 2021

Nearly 60% of Americans use some kind of digital device, including computers, at least 5 hours a day.  

All that screen time can result in blurred vision, eye strain, dryness and irritation — what’s commonly called computer vision syndrome.

About 70% of computer users suffer from eye strain, known as ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’.

What is computer vision syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition caused by staring at a digital device, especially for many hours.

This condition is characterized by eye strain, headaches and dry or sore eyes.

With more people working and studying at home, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children with these symptoms.

CVS is most prevalent with computers and typically occurs when looking at a screen at arm’s length or closer, this condition is also known as Digital Eye Strain.

Symptoms of CVS

Common symptoms of CVS include:

  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Watery or red eyes

Most of these symptoms are temporary but recurrent. When you stop using a digital device the symptoms may lessen, improve significantly, or go away altogether.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor experienced in CVS.

SEE RELATED: Guide to Vision Therapy for Adults

Find a Vision Therapy Eye Doctor Near You

Diagnosing CVS

An eye doctor can diagnose CVS by viewing a patient’s health history and performing an eye exam. The doctor will assess whether any environmental factors, health problems or medications might be adding to the symptoms or causing the digital eye strain.

During an eye exam your doctor will determine if you have deficits in visual coordination or visual perception that could be causing the CVS symptoms.

Treatment for CVS

If CVS is detected, your eye doctor may prescribe stress-reducing lenses or  blue-blocking lenses that block or absorb the blue light waves produced by electronic screens.

If poor focusing, tracking, or convergence skills, or visual perceptual challenges are identified, a course of vision training, also known as vision therapy may be prescribed.

Tips to prevent CVS

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the effects of CVS:

  • Adjust screen angle. Make sure the center of the screen is 4-8 inches lower than eye level and that it is 20-28 inches from the eyes.
  • Reduce glare. When glare reflect off a screen, the eyes need to work harder to read. Make sure the screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from indoor lighting or sunshine. A glare filter can be added to the screen to prevent glare as well.
  • Take breaks and blink frequently. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at a screen for too long. Take a break from the computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  • Use a cool-air humidifier. So the eyes don’t dry out as quickly, a humidifier adds moisture to the air.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Vision Therapy for Adults

If you believe you have CVS, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you, so that you can receive treatment to alleviate any symptoms you may be experiencing.