Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome and How to Prevent It

Computer vision syndrome (CVS), or often also referred to as visual fatigue and digital eye strain, is a term for a collection of symptoms related to eye disorders due to the use of computer-based electronic devices, such as laptops, desktops, cellphones, and tablets.

Symptoms that usually accompany CVS are eye fatigue or soreness, blurred or double vision, and red, dry, or hot eyes. In some cases, it can even be accompanied by headaches, neck, shoulders, and back.

The longer the duration of computer use, the longer the symptoms will last, even after the end of computer use.

How Does Computer Use Cause CVS?

Computer vision syndrome can arise for several reasons, namely:

  • When staring at the screen, the eyes are constantly moving from one point to another and focus for a long time. This activity requires hard work of the eye muscles.
  • The letters on a computer screen are generally not as sharp as on print media, so that we unconsciously force our eyes to focus more on reading them.
  • The flickering and glare of the light coming from the screen adds to the workload on the eyes.
  • The frequency of the eyes to blink tends to decrease when staring at the screen. This causes the eyes to become drier.

How to Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

About 50-90% of individuals who work using computers report experiencing symptoms of CVS. However, you don’t have to worry. There are several ways that can be done to prevent this condition, namely:

1. Adjust the ambient light

Make sure the light in your surroundings is neither too bright nor too dark, by:

Avoid sitting facing or back to the window directly, because it will interfere with vision to the screen.
Close the window blinds, if the sun is too bright.
Adjust the screen position, to reduce light reflection from windows or lamps.
Adjust the position of the table lamp light, so that it does not go directly to the eyes.

2. Arrange your desk

Adjust the position of the computer screen, so that your gaze is right in the center of the screen at a distance of 50-70 cm from your face. If you work with a computer and books, use a book stand to place the book so that it is level with the screen. The goal is to reduce the repetitive motion of looking down and looking up.

3. Change the settings on your computer screen

Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size according to your convenience. If necessary, use a screen filter to reduce flashes of light from the screen.

4. Limit computer time

We recommend that you limit the time you use gadgets, including computers. While using the computer:

Blink your eyes often to moisten your eyes during work.
Follow the 20-20-20 tip, which is to take your eyes off the screen every 20 minutes to stare at a distant object (about 20 feet or 6 meters) for 20 seconds. Twenty seconds is the time it takes for the eye muscles to finally relax.

5. Use artificial tear drops

If necessary, you can apply artificial tears to help moisturize your eyes. Artificial tear drops can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription, but make sure the drops do not contain active medicinal ingredients or preservatives, so they do not cause side effects on the eyes.

6. Overcome other eye conditions you have

Use glasses with appropriate lenses if you are nearsighted (myopia), farsighted (hypermetropia), cylinder eye (astigmatism), or old eye (presbyopia) to help the eye work.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome are not dangerous and are generally temporary. However, this condition can cause discomfort and obstacles in performing daily tasks. It’s best to consult an ophthalmologist if your symptoms persist or even get worse, even if you’re not using a computer-based device.

Beware of eye stress due to the use of computers and laptops

You often stare at the laptop screen for hours? Or often use gadgets in a dark room? If so, watch out! These two activities can trigger eye stress which can cause discomfort when viewing.

Not only the mind, the sense of sight can also experience stress if it is given an excessive load. This condition, known as eye stress, occurs when the eyes become strained and tired from looking at or staring at something for too long.

Habits That Can Make Eyes Stress

Normally, the eye blinks about 15 times per minute. But when forced to focus and stare at something for too long, especially staring at a digital screen, the eyes will only blink about 5-7 times per minute.

In fact, the blinking process is needed by the eyes, because it functions to clean dust particles that enter the eye and moisturize the surface of the eyeball.

Driving too long, reading, writing, and staring at computer screens and other gadgets are some of the activities that can cause you to experience eye fatigue and lead to eye stress. Especially if it is not supported by good lighting.

Eye stress can make the eyes feel dry, painful, watery, sore, hot, and itchy, and can even make the eyes more sensitive to light or easy to glare. In addition, eye stress can also be accompanied by double or blurry vision.

Eye Relaxation Techniques to Overcome Eye Stress

Although rarely causes damage to the eyes, eye stress can interfere with activities. To overcome this, there are several tips that you can do to make your eyes more relaxed during activities and not get tired easily, namely:

1. Set distance

Make sure your laptop, computer, gadget, or book screen is at least 60 cm away from your eyes.

2. Use screen filters

Add a filter on your laptop or computer screen, so your eyes are not exposed to blue light for too long, which can cause eye stress.

3. Rest your eyes

If you’re doing work at the computer, turn your gaze every 20 minutes to another object that is far away. Stare at the object for 20 seconds, then continue working. Next, every two hours, rest your eyes for 15 minutes.

4. Adjust lighting

If the light on the screen of your laptop, computer, or gadget is much brighter than the light in the room, your eyes will work harder to see. Therefore, make sure your workspace or room has sufficient lighting for activities, not too bright or dark.

5. Remove contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes time to rest by occasionally wearing glasses. In addition, do not use contact lenses when sleeping and regularly replace them with new ones.

In addition to doing the methods above, you can also wash your eyes to relieve irritation caused by eye stress. Here are the steps for washing the eyes:

Make sure your hands are clean before washing your eyes.
Remove contact lenses if you are wearing them.
Fill a small bowl or container with clean water, then dip your face into the container while blinking. Do it for 15 minutes.
After feeling better, lift your face and dry with a towel.

You can also wash your eyes using an over-the-counter eye wash product at pharmacies or drugstores. These solutions generally contain benzalkonium chloride which is safe for the eyes and is commonly used to treat irritation or dry eyes.

If the above methods have been done but you still experience visual disturbances or discomfort in the eyes, immediately consult an ophthalmologist to get the right treatment.

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