Digital Eye Strain – A Major Side Effect to Modern Life


The internet is everywhere but that doesn’t have to mean there is nothing that can be done to alleviate Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Eye strain is not gender or age specific. From school aged children to working adults, anyone with a laptop, iPhone, tablet or any other kind of digital device can suffer its effects. Evidence shows that very few people who work or play at a screen regularly are symptom free.

How Does A Computer Screen Affect Vision?

In short, CVS is the result of ocular repetitive motion (just like carpal tunnel syndrome) and the longer it continues, the worse your eyes are going to feel. Eyes are forced to continually focus and refocus when they are locked on a video screen. Unlike printed material on paper, glare from the screen itself, contrast and flickering images all add to the strain digital media puts on the eyes. The lenses in our eyes become less flexible as we age which can make CVS that much more difficult to deal with. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should discuss them with their optometrist.

  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Constant eye irritation.
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain.
  • Headaches.

Work environment can add to vision problems. When a work area is poorly lit, or the screen must be viewed at an angle, that may not sound like much, but both make the eyes work that much harder to compensate. Nearness to a window, and even interior humidity are also contributing factors.

Improve Existing Symptoms and Prevent New Ones from Cropping Up

If a monitor isn’t slightly below eye level and approximately 20 to 28 inches from the user’s face, the best thing they can do for their eyes is make it so. The workspace may need rearranging to accommodate changes, but it shouldn’t be necessary for the user to stretch their necks or strain their eyes to see what’s on the screen. It’s a good idea for anyone who spends a lot of time staring at digital data to see a vision specialist before symptoms begin appearing. A prescription for “work” glasses may be to relieve or prevent the uncomfortable side effects of CVS.

When prescription eye wear isn’t enough, there are special glasses available with tinted lens material that boosts contrast, and cuts glare. Here are a few simple fixes that will work until a visit with the doctor has been taken care of. Even afterwards, following these simple tips are still a good idea.

  • Cut the glare any way possible to reduce its effect on computer screens. Close the shades on windows, add a glare filters to screens, and instead of using overhead lights, use a desk lamp for more even, eye friendly light.
  • Make use of the 20-20-20 rule. Rest the eyes by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and stare at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Don’t hesitate to adjust the brightness of a screen and make text just a little bigger so squinting isn’t necessary to read it.

Computer Vision Syndrome is not a permanent condition. Common sense and a visit to their Optometrist is all it takes for most people to become symptom free. Clear vision is the one thing most of us dread losing, and if all it takes to be able to see without squinting again, or close the lap top at the end of the day without a headache is a visit to the eye doctor’s office, why hesitate?