Ocular Conditions

Additional Thoughts on Computer Vision Syndrome

There’s the old joke:   A man goes to the doctor and says ‘doc, my arm hurts when I move it like this,’ and the doctor says ‘then don’t move your arm like that.’    If only finding a solution to Computer Vision Syndrome were that easy.   But the computer plays such an integral role in all of  our lives that avoiding it would spell trouble for our careers or our ways of communication.   Since my first post on Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) was the most popular blog post so far this year, I wanted to add some follow-up ideas.

The most effective solution to CVS is specialized prescription computer glasses.   As mentioned in the first post, computer glasses allow for the correct amount of magnification at computer distance and thus relieve near-focus (accommodation) stress which often causes headache.   These glasses also are treated with anti-glare technology which further comforts the eyes by relieving glare strain produced by the computer screen.

But there are also some ergonomic approaches to CVS, such as:

1.  Take a look at the monitor:    Use an LCD screen with the highest resolution possible.   Most of us are using LCD screens, but some may still be using the older CRT monitors that are not flat-screens.  These older monitors have markedly reduced resolution and this lower resolution tricks the accommodation system into over-working to improve clarity.     Even with a LCD flat screen, it’s important to consider the brightness of the display.   Backgrounds that are too bright inherently create glare and eyestrain over long periods of time.    Consider adjusting the brightness of your monitor to match the brightness of its surroundings.

2.  Don’t forget lighting:  more is not always better.   That holds true with respect to overhead or room lighting when working at the computer for long periods of time.   To reduce strain at the computer, it’s best to avoid very bright lighting.   The eyes will be more comfortable if the environmental lighting is somewhat subdued.   Try to keep the major lighting source to your side, rather than directly in front or back of you while at the computer.

3.  Working distance: the optimal distance to be seated from the computer screen is about 20-24 inches away.   It is also optimal to have the computer screen 10-15 degrees below their eyes.

4.  Take a break, actually take lots of them: I advocate the 20-20-20 rule.  It’s simple and it can help reduced fatigue at the computer.   Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.   These frequent breaks allow the accommodation (near-focus) muscles to relax and reset.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please post them here or email us.   Happy computer work!