Do you experience dry, burning eyes? Headaches that just won’t go away? Are you sick of staring at the computer screen? Well you could be suffering from what the doctors call Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is a temporary condition caused by using a computer or staring at a screen for a long period of time. In this day and age where most people work on computers for long hours, it’s a condition that ails most of the urban workforce. We talked to Dr Prakash Nayak, an expert ophthalmologist about the issue. Excerpts from the interview:
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition which is ever-present in today’s urban population who spend all days on their laptops or computers. Viewing a computer screen often makes the eyes work harder than normal. The unique characteristics and high visual demands of working on computers make individuals susceptible to various vision related conditions.
How is working on computers more strenuous than say reading a book?
Viewing a computer screen is very different than reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer screen are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult. Different distances and angles also result in aggravating the issue. Even minor vision problems can turn into major ones due to protracted computer use. Even people who have an eyeglass or contact lens prescription may find it’s not suitable for the specific viewing distances of their computer screen. In fact along with eye conditions, the posture we use laptops in can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder or back.
Who is at risk to develop CVS?
Well pretty much everyone who works in an office that requires use of computers. People who spend two or more continuous hours in front of the screen are at a greater risk of developing CVS.
What are the common symptoms associated with CVS?
Some of the common symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and pain around the neck-shoulder region. The symptoms are usually temporary and disappear after one ceases to use the computer.
What are the treatment options?
There are many things that you can do to guard against Computer Vision Syndrome. You can wear zero power (if you don’t have corrective glasses) anti-glare glasses or use an anti-glare screen. Blinking constantly helps too, as it replenishes the tear film in the eye. If you do have dry eyes, you can use artificial tears. It’s also advisable to take frequent breaks to prevent eye-strain. Ideally, you should take a 15 minute break for every two hours you use the computer.
Some other things you can do include placing the computer screen at a comfortable angle (15 to 20 degrees below eye-level as measured from the centre of the screen). Seating position and posture is equally important. Sit on a comfortable chair with an adjustable back and keep your feet on the floor.
A few simple precautions should be enough to keep CVS at bay. If symptoms persist one should contact a professional ophthalmologist.