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Computer Vision Syndrome: How to Diagnose and Treat It

A blog post about the diagnosis and treatment of computer vision syndrome.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a problem that many people experience, but don’t know how to diagnose or treat. In this article, we will talk about the causes of CVS and what you can do to ease symptoms.

If you are experiencing any visual problems on your computer screen such as eye strain, blurry vision or dry eyes, it may be time to take your eye care seriously and book an appointment with an optometrist.

What Causes Computer Vision Syndrome?

Squinting at computer, tablet, or mobile screens for hours at a time is a normal part of our lives in the 21st century. Unfortunately, eye problems associated with this activity are also on the rise. Even if you have never had eye problems before, you may have noticed computer vision syndrome symptoms after two or more hours of screen time.

For many reasons, reading text on a computer screen or digital device is often harder for the eyes than reading printed text. This is why working on a computer for just an hour may cause symptoms of computer vision syndrome or “digital eye strain,” but getting lost in your favorite book might not.

The reason behind this discomfort comes down to several factors that can harm our vision and make it hard to focus, such as:

  1. Glare from screens
  2. Poor lighting conditions like TVs with different brightness settings at night making one’s room too dark
  3. Bad posture during long hours spent hunched over computers leading to neck pain and headaches
  4. Viewing devices at improper distances causing blurred images which require more work from the eyes

Who is at risk?

Digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome are fairly common problems. A few of the leading causes are:

  1. Spending too much time in front of your computer
  2. Sitting too close to your computer monitor
  3. Not taking regular breaks

This can be further agitated by having eye problems that aren’t corrected with glasses or contact lenses, as well as having a pair of eyeglasses that aren’t suitable for the viewing distance to the computer.

How To Diagnose Computer Vision Syndrome: 7 Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome can vary from person to person but some of the most common are:

  1. Headaches or migraines
  2. Excessively dry eyes with burning/stinging
  3. Neck and shoulder pain
  4. Difficulty focusing
  5. Double vision
  6. Eye twitching
  7. Red eyes

Tests & Diagnosis

To get a proper gauge on whether or not you have computer vision syndrome, your doctor might test your visual acuity, refraction, and focus & eye coordination.

The doctor will measure how well your eyes work together as you have various tasks lined up to test for computer vision syndrome – from depth perception to near-sightedness or farsightedness.

Visual Acuity is measured by determining what size letters they can see at varying distances; Refractions tests if there are any prescriptions that would optimize vision;

Focus and Eye Coordination helps determine how quickly/accurately one’s eyes are able to focus on objects (like distant stars).

Focus and Eye Coordination tests how well your eyes work together and how quickly and accurately your eyes are able to focus on objects and varying distances.

From these measurements, your doctor can design a treatment plan to help relieve your symptoms of computer vision syndrome. For people with otherwise normal eyes and vision, a set of specially-designed glasses used during the time you are working on the computer can be very helpful.

For patients already wearing contacts or glasses, new, more computer-friendly prescriptions are available.

How Do Computer Glasses Help?

Computer vision syndrome is quickly becoming a common complaint within eye doctors’ offices. Computer glasses help people stay focused without the pain of eye strain.

While computer glasses are not designed specifically to correct visual acuity, they typically have about 60% of the magnifying power that over-the counter reading glasses do.

Computer glasses are a great way to reduce eye strain and the glare associated with computers’ blue light.

There are many different types of lenses that can be added, including single vision which corrects only nearsightedness or farsightedness without tinting or transitions; occupational progressive lenses for those who need correction in both areas but want the intermediate zone from correcting close up work as well; and occupational bifocal/trigonal with larger zones so you don’t have to change out your glasses too often when switching between tasks like reading printed material at arms reach vs looking far away such as driving down the street.

It is important to work with your eye care provider like an optometrist or ophthalmologist in order get customized computer glasses. Otherwise you may find yourself straining more than normal when using them on a daily basis because this vital measurement could be off if it isn’t done correctly by an expert!

3 Immediate Solutions For Those Suffering From Computer Vision Syndrome

In addition to these diagnosis and treatment options, there are many things you can implement immediately to cut down on computer eye strain and symptoms of developing computer vision syndrome:

  1. Computer setup – Adjust your monitor so that it is about 15-20 degrees lower than your eye level when seated between 20-28 inches away from the screen. Reference materials can be placed on a document holder between the monitor and keyboard, or to the side, but positioned for as little head movement as possible. Also consider investing in an anti-glare screen for your monitor to help reduce glare from surrounding lights. Be sure to sit and work with proper posture.
  2. Adjust Lighting – If you can, reposition any lighting (or your computer) to minimize glare and use natural lighting whenever possible.
  3. Eye Rest and Blinking Breaks – Every 20 minutes during your work, look away toward a distant point for 20 seconds to refocus your eyes, and give them a 15-minute break after each 2-hour computer session. Remember to blink more frequently to keep your eyes moist.
computer vision syndrome
Image source: American Optometric Association


With a combination of the proper optometry care and self-care, you can minimize computer vision syndrome and other modern-day eye health and vision problems.

Contact us for an eye exam appointment today!


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