Computer Vision Syndrome: Why Your Eyes May Need A Coffee Break

  • BY Ryan

It happens to many of us — sore eyes along with headaches and blurry vision after spending long stretches of time at the computer. This discomfort can decrease our productivity at work and make us more than a little cranky to boot. The good news though is that Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a real and temporary condition that can be prevented in many cases. Here is some quick information to help you identify whether you could be suffering from the effects of Computer Vision Syndrome as well as steps to take to prevent it. After all, happy eyes make for that work getting done a lot faster so we can enjoy other things in life.

CVS Definition

Computer Vision Syndrome is the name given to the temporary problems caused by the eyes trying to focus during long periods of close up work. Although heavily associated with prolonged computer use, embroidery, jewelry making or other tasks that require the use of the eyes at a close distance may also trigger CVS. Even watching hours of TV online could cause it. Glancing down at notes, then back at a computer screen over and over again can really bring on the discomfort of CVS in many people. Children as well as adults are at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome.

CVS Symptoms

Redness and dryness of the eyes are common symptoms of CVS. Headaches are also very common. Explain any symptoms you have to your eye doctor and he or she can check for Computer Vision Syndrome. Your eye health professional may recommend glasses to help your problem, or just advise you to be sure to take breaks from focusing on a computer screen or a close up project you’re working on.

“Asthenopia” is the medical term for the range of symptoms that CVS may cause. The symptoms are not always the same for everyone. For example, one person may notice slightly blurred vision, while another person may experience actual double vision.

CVS Prevention

Even something as simple as glancing away from the computer for a few seconds every half an our or so can greatly reduce your risks of developing CVS. Although the condition is a temporary one that is not known to cause permanent damage to the eyes, no one likes eye discomfort and headaches. Along with regular breaks, having adequate lighting is also important. Remember that too bright of lighting for the task may also contribute to the result of experiencing CVS as glare can really create focusing issues for your eyes. Also use blinds in a room when bright sunlight poses a problem.

It would be a mistake to treat only the symptoms of CVS without having an eye professional check for the condition itself. Using eye drops to eliminate redness for example, won’t get to the root of the problem and prolonged use of some drop varieties may make irritable CVS eyes even worse. In many cases, making sure to refocus the eyes away from the close up work for just a few minutes regularly throughout the task can help stop CVS. In some cases, an eye professional may recommend corrective lenses to make your close up work pain-free and so much easier for your eyes. Regular eye exams are important as they may allow your eye doctor to catch early signs of CVS before they disrupt your work productivity or cause bothersome headaches, irritated eyes or temporary vision changes.

As we age, we are at an even higher risk of CVS as the lenses in our eyes become harder due to less proteins in the eye. This inflexibility means the eyes have a harder time focusing easily, so CVS symptoms such as blurred vision can increase in their severity.