Computer vision syndrome: What should you do?


The advancement in technology makes life more sedentary—a computer and a mobile ease every work for us. Looking at a computer screen for prolonged periods is the primary cause of computer vision syndrome, i.e., digital eye strain. The text on a handheld device or a PC is not comfortable for prolonged reading times, unlike a book with printed pages.

Additionally, the viewing angle while working on the computer or a laptop is different than writing or reading a book. This situation burdens the eye system, the neck, and the back with additional demands. Other factors, like screen brightness and environmental lighting conditions, determine the intensity of the syndrome. Specific conditions like near or far-sightedness and astigmatism worsen the symptoms.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome

  • Headache
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry and itchy eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain

The 20-20-20 rule

Eye exercises can help improve the symptoms of CVS. The 20-20-20 rule is most widely accepted to reduce the negative impacts of prolonged use of a computer.

Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and try focusing on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

It is crucial to look away from your screen now and then to avoid eye strain and headaches. Besides, frequent blinking can keep your eyes hydrated, preventing dryness. Though people who stare at a computer screen blink a few times, it is usually partial closure of the eyelids.

Try blinking your eyes very slowly for at least ten times every 20 minutes to keep it moist at all times. You can also consider using lubricating eye drops. Don’t confuse them with formulated drops, which help you get rid of the redness.

Don’t forget your posture.

Place and adjust the screen to how you typically sit on a chair. Ensure to use a straight chair, which is not too comfortable. A comfortable one can gradually change your posture and start hurting your back. This change in your position can also affect your viewing angle. Besides, if you continuously need to look at a paper and update it on the PC, place the paper adjacent to your screen. It makes your viewing angle comfortable and reduces pain in the neck and back. Use a lamp with focused light on the paper, with similar lighting to the environment. 

Control the lighting in your workspace for comfortable vision

The environmental lighting in your workspace determines the effects of CVS. Use multiple light sources rather than using a single bright light. Use more warm light bulbs. Avoid direct sunlight into the room while working on your computer. Direct exposure to UV light can result in cataract and, in some cases, retinal burning. Besides, your eye continually tries to manage light for focus.

Due to the difference in intensity between your screen’s display and natural sunlight, it starts to experience discomfort and fails to function efficiently. This discomfort often leads to eye strain and, eventually, headache.  Also, turn off overhead lights to make you feel better while working on a PC.

Cover windows with curtains or drapes to naturally lit up the room without causing trouble. A well-lit room reduces eye strain due to dim lighting. Position your computer screen to the side of a window, rather than placing it in front of the window. Curtains also help reduce reflection on your screen. This reflection or glare also leads to strain. Authorities suggest the use of anti-glare glasses while working for extended periods. 

Also, upgrade to flat LED displays, instead of the traditional cathode-ray tubes, which help reduce the glare. Matte-finished walls can also contribute to reduced glare. A screen with a high refresh rate and low flickering can make you feel better. Consider using a large display, if you wok for extended periods, to reduce strain.

Customize the display of your computer for a better vision

  • Brightness: Adjust the brightness so that it is similar to the conditions of your workspace.
  • Text and contrast: Change the font size according to your comfort. A black colored text on a white background is widely preferred and less harmful. Avoid using dark modes during the day. It makes your screen dull in contrast to your environment, which is well-lit.
  • Warm lighting: Change the color of the screen to a much warmer color, which has a longer wavelength. Colors like orange and red are preferred over blue. Blue light is more commonly used in PCs, laptops, and mobiles. Avoiding or reducing exposure to blue light gradually reduces the effects of computer vision syndrome. The noise with blue light reduces contrast increasing eye strain. 

How blue light affects sleep and intensifies CVS?

The Pineal gland starts secreting melatonin during the typical bedtime and reaches a peak at midnight. Blue light emitted from screens interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Any light with a low wavelength can impact in the same way. Hence, it is advised to opt for a dim red light, due to its high wavelength, for sleep. 

Using a mobile or PC just before bedtime reduces the hormone concentration, shifting the schedule to late night. This effect can result in sleep deprivation, eventually leading to other conditions like headaches, stress, and strain. Though people fall asleep at a later time, the condition tends to reduce the time spent in the REM sleep, making them feel sleepier the next day. Cutting down on electronics after sunset can improve sleep and overall health in the long run.

Related: How to fix a sleep schedule? What is the best time to sleep?

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