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.

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