Easy Solutions for Screen-Related Eye Issues

How to combat computer vision syndrome

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Too much time spent in front of a computer, or any screen for that matter, can lead to a variety of eye problems, including computer vision syndrome. Symptoms appear because the eyes and brain react differently to words on a screen then they do to printed text.

Visual symptoms related to screen use can be caused by visual disorders, poor workplace conditions, and individual work habits. If you are having trouble with your eyes while using a computer or another screened device, explore some of the solutions below.

Woman using computer at work
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Eyestrain

Eyestrain, or asthenopia, may be caused by many different environmental and visual conditions. When focusing continuously on a near task, such as working on a computer or reading a book, the muscles of the inner eye need to work hard to both converge the eyes (inward motion of both eyes) and work to focus on the near task.

This convergence and focusing demand on the muscles can cause:

Solution

Take a break. Give your eyes a rest by following the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes staring at a screen or near task work, take 20 seconds to look in the distance at least 20 feet away.

Blurry Vision

Blurred vision is a loss of sharpness of vision and the inability to see small details. It is sometimes related to the inability of the eyes to steadily focus on a computer screen for a significant amount of time.

Also, vision may be blurred by constantly changing focus, such as looking back and forth between the keyboard and the computer screen. However, if you are nearing the age of 40, blurry vision may be caused by presbyopia, the loss of the eye's ability to change focus to see near objects (often associated with aging). Blurry vision can also be caused by dry eye.

Solution

Consider purchasing a pair of computer glasses. Computer glasses are prescribed to increase your comfort level while at the computer.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes result from a lack of moisture in the eyes. Tears replenish moisture to the eye by way of blinking.

Blinking is one of the fastest reflexes of the body. However, people tend to blink about half as much as normal when they are working on a computer.

Solution

Blink more often. Also, replenish moisture in the eye by using artificial tears.

Headaches

You may develop a headache after staring at a computer screen for a significant amount of time. The brightness and contrast of the monitor may produce an indirect glare that is hard on the eyes.

Direct glare—light that shines directly into the eyes such as overhead lights and light from windows—can also cause eyestrain and headaches.

Solution

Make sure the brightness and contrast of your computer monitor are at comfortable viewing levels. Also, avoid direct glare from windows and lighting.

Double Vision

Double vision, or diplopia, is the perception of two images from a single object. And staring at a computer screen for too long may cause this. But if double vision persists, it can indicate a severe neurological problem for which you should immediately see your eye doctor.

Solution

While a pair of computer glasses may alleviate and help the problem, double vision can be a sign of a severe vision, neurological, or life-threatening problem, and you should see your eye doctor for a complete eye exam to be certain.

Back and Neck Ache

Since the eyes lead the body, we may sit in awkward positions while at the computer to compensate for vision problems as they occur. Slumping or slouching can lead to neck and back pain.

Also, if you wear glasses with a bifocal while at the computer, you may unknowingly be tilting your head in various ways in order to see the screen clearly, resulting in physical pain.

Solution

Use proper posture. Be aware of the way you hold your body while at the computer. Posture problems are often relieved by wearing proper glasses. You may also want to discuss other lens options with your eye doctor or optician. Also, evaluate your computer station for good ergonomics.

A Word From Verywell

Many people are seeking relief from unpleasant symptoms associated with too much screen time, including eyestrain and irritation. However, any type of vision symptom should be checked by your optometrist or ophthalmologist to rule out a possible underlying cause.

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Article Sources
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  1. Sheppard AL, Wolffsohn JS. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and ameliorationBMJ Open Ophthalmology. 2018;3(1). doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146

  2. Rosenfield M. Computer vision syndrome: a review of ocular causes and potential treatmentsOphthalmic and Physiological Optics. 2011;31(5):502-515. doi:10.1111/j.1475-1313.2011.00834.x

  3. Gowrisankaran S, Sheedy JE. Computer vision syndrome: A reviewWork. 2015;52(2):303-314. doi:10.3233/wor-152162

  4. Coles‐Brennan C, Sulley A, Young G. Management of digital eye strainClinical and Experimental Optometry. 2018;102(1):18-29. doi:10.1111/cxo.12798

Additional Reading
  • American Optometric Association (AOA). Computer Vision Syn drome Symptoms. AOA, 2006-09.