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Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

According to the 2003 U.S. Census data (the most recent statistics available as of November, 2007), 64% of adults and 86% of children use computers at school, at work, or at home. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) affects the majority of computer users. About 88% of people who use computers everyday suffer from eyestrain, and children are no exception.

Printed words are easier to focus on than words on a computer screen. Letters on the screen may have the illusion of being crisp and clear, but they are not. They are made of tiny pixels which cause your eyes to make constant micro-movements, shifting to the “resting point of accommodation” and then back, trying to focus on the words.

Even if you feel that you are able to see the computer screen clearly, your eyes may become taxed to the point that your productivity is lower, stress and fatigue are higher, and your vision begins to gradually decline.

Signs That the Computer May be Affecting Your Eyes

  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Prolonged computer use overworks the eye muscles in a way that is not beneficial. Eye strain and sitting in one position for too long cause the muscles in the face, neck and shoulders to tense and become stiff.

Stiff neck and shoulder muscles can reduce blood flow to your head and eyes. Good blood flow is necessary for healthy eyes. Because of the brightness of the screen we blink five times less often than normal when using the computer, leading to dry eyes.

Some Ways of Protecting Your Eyes
Use of computer glasses is one of the best ways of reducing eyestrain. The distance between your eyes and the monitor is an intermediate distance – not near or far. That means that reading glasses and bifocals are not the best choices.

According to a study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, even if you feel that you can see the screen clearly, your performance may be decreased by as much as 20 percent. A prescription for computer eyeglasses will help relieve eyestrain. It is estimated that 70 to 75 percent of computer users could benefit from the use of computer glasses.

Exercising your eyes, by shifting focus from near to far and back again, keeps the eye muscles limber and flexible.

Good ergonomics will place your monitor at the right height for your eyes, your keyboard at the right height for your hands, and your chair seat at the right height for both of those. This will help keep your entire body comfortable and avoid muscle strain in the neck, shoulders, and arms.

A short break every fifteen to twenty minutes can rest your eyes and increase your computer productiveness.

You can read more at Computers and Children’s Vision.

A yearly eye exam will let you know if your vision is deteriorating with computer use. If you are experiencing symptoms of CVS, however, don't wait until your annual exam to get checked out. Contact your ophthalmologist today and find out what you can do to get immediate relief and prevent vision loss.

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