Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

As the computer has become more and more a part of our lives, there has been an increase in the incidence of a condition which has been named Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is actually a collection of symptoms that, although annoying, are not felt to be permanent or create lasting damage. These symptoms do not involve the eyes but also include headache and neck pain.

The ocular symptoms include blurred vision, sore eyes, and dry, irritated, and red eyes. The source of many of the symptoms is the dryness caused by the decrease in the blink rate that people experience when using the computer. In other words, there is a tendency to stare. Headache and neck pain can develop from abnormal head positions often necessitated by bifocals or trifocals. Of course, all these symptoms are more pronounced with prolonged computer use.

Much of the treatment for CVS is preventative. Simple consciously increasing the frequency of blinking can help. Artificial tears can and should be used as often as necessary. Avoid having fans blowing directly past the eyes because that increases drying. Having the correct glasses prescription designed with computer use in mind is important. The computer needs to be positioned in such a way as to avoid neck strain and glare. In particular, it is highly advisable to take ocular rest breaks for at least ten minutes each hour. During these breaks, the eyes may be closed or focused off in the distance. If possible, computer work should be interspersed with other activities that do not require the same sort vision and postural demands as the computer.

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With some fairly simple preventative measures, the annoying problem of Computer Vision Syndrome can be kept at a minimum.

Author: Richard P. Marcello, M.D.