Close to 150 million people sit in front of a computer monitor each day. Many of them spend more than two hours at a time, focusing on screens as they complete work projects, blog, or just surf the web. If a significant portion of your day involves computer time, you may be at the risk of CVS-Computer Vision Syndrome too.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
According to the American Optometric Association, CVS is a set of symptoms that are all related to working with a computer. These symptoms can affect both the eyes and musculoskeletal parts of the body. Very simply, CVS occurs when an individual overburden the human eye by asking it to perform in prolonged situations that it was not designed to do. Studies have found that the majority of video display workers experience some eye or vision symptoms. A national survey of doctors of optometry found that more than 14% of their patients present with eye or vision-related symptoms resulting from this type of work. The most common symptoms are:
• Blurred Vision when looking into the distance
• Double Vision
• Stinging of the eyes
• Excessive tearing of the eyes
• Neck or shoulder pain.
(Keep in the mind that these symptoms are generally experienced after prolonged periods of computer work or, over time, due to progressive eye strain associated with CVS).
What Causes CVS?
Unlike printed matter, a computer screen displays words and images through the use of pixels which are multi-dimensional and vary in contrast. The eye is always working extra hard to accommodate as it focuses and refocuses on the graded areas of these combined pixels. The eye lens must work harder to support the function of sight. Eventually, the eye tires and becomes lazy. This explains why vision blurs occur and why it is difficult to look away from the monitor and see distant objects clearly.
One of the most significant environmental factors affecting work with displays is lighting. Bright lights in the peripheral field of view may cause discomfort glare. An acceptable lighting level may require a compromise between the amount of light needed to enhance VDT screen visibility and reduce reflections and glare and that needed to perform other office reading and work tasks. The brightness of the screen and the surrounding room should be balanced. For dark background screens this often requires using lower light levels. The brightness and contrast should be adjusted to provide balance with room lighting and maximum visibility.
Stinging of the eyes and eye irritation can be caused by the dry atmosphere, and starring at the screen. It decreased number of blinking and increased rate of tear evaporation, which effect the dry eyes.
The presence of even minor vision problems can often significantly affect the worker comfort and performance. Uncorrected farsightedness, astigmatism, and binocular vision (eye coordination and eye focusing) problems can be major contributing factors to VDT related eye stress.
What can I do if I think I might be suffering from eye problems associated with CVS?
At first you have to think about limiting the time you spend front of the computer. It is often unaccomplishable, but there are several other methods too:
• Seeing an ophthalmologist is a good first step in to determine whether you have a problem like Computer Vision Syndrome.
• Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Special lens designs, lens power or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort, and helps you minimize eye strain, and get optimal eye performance.
• You have to set up your computer’s place properly. The screen must have an optimal height and distance from your eyes.
• The colour of screen characters may also affect visibility. The colour of the characters can affect how the eyes focus on the screen. Monochrome, or single colour displays often provide more optimal images for word processing. Dark letters on a light background or invert could generally provide a more readable image than green, yellow-orange, blue or red characters.
• You may to set the proper contrast and brightness setting on your monitor too, to make it more viewable.