Dhairya Chandra

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What is Computer Vision Syndrome ?

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Seeing is a complex process involving different parts of the eye.

These days, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. That can put a real strain on your eyes.

Eye problems caused by computer use fall under the heading computer vision syndrome(CVS). It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and pain. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms. Viewing a computer or digital screen is different than reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device 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.

The presence of even minor vision problems can often significantly affect comfort and performance at a computer or while using other digital screen devices. Uncorrected or under corrected vision problems can be major contributing factors to computer-related eyestrain. Computer vision syndrome(CVS) is a condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display device for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time and the eye muscles being unable to recover from the strain due to a lack of adequate sleep. Some symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, fatigue, eye strain dry-eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness polyopia, and difficulty refocusing the eyes. These symptoms can be further aggravated by improper lighting conditions (i.e. glare, strong blue-spectrum backlights or bright overhead lighting) or air moving past the eyes (e.g. overhead vents, direct air from a fan).

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, computer vision syndrome affects about 90% of the people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer. Another study in Malaysia was conducted on 795 university students aged between 18 and 25. The students experienced headaches along with eyestrain, with 89.9% of the students surveyed feeling any type of symptom of CVS. Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day in front of a screen, whether that be a television screen, phone/tablet, or a computer screen. This has increased the prevalence of individuals affected by computer vision syndrome.


Symptoms:

• Eyestrain
• Headaches
• Blurred vision
• Difficulty in changing focus between far and near
• Dryness of eyes
• Irritated eyes
• Tired eyes
• Redness
• Contact lens discomfort

Causes:

• Uncorrected spectacle power
• Inappropriate glasses for computer use
• Difficulty in eye coordination at near work
• Strain on the muscles of the eye due to work style
• Decreased blink rate or tear function
• Glare and reflections from the monitor and surroundings
• Poor workstation setup or improper use of workstation
• Job nature and stress

CVS can occur in any age group but children are found to report less of symptoms.

This does not indicate that children are not prone to CVS, but that they continue to strain the visual system and the condition is overlooked to a greater extent than adults.

The visual system in teenagers is well adapted to near tasks, but the strain due to change in image quality, glare, lighting and absence of breaks between computer use, associated with muscle imbalances and power changes need a closer watch as it is the changing phase of physical development and no chances can be taken.

CVS is often different from other typical eye problems. The usual ophthalmic examination focuses more on distance vision (6 m and beyond) and near vision (35 to 40 cm), whereas the computer professionals have a unique working distances with respect to the monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. Due to this difference in working distance, the usual examination does not completely address the actual environmental conditions. The Computer Vision Clinic, however, is specially designed to address the varied needs of the individual computer user. Decreased focusing capability is mitigated by wearing a small plus-powered (+1.00 to +1.50) over-the-counter pair of eyeglasses. Wearing these eyeglasses helps such patients regain their ability to focus on near objects. People who are engaged in other occupations—such as tailors engaged in embroidery—can experience similar symptoms and can be helped by these glasses.

There are some steps to be taken care of:

Keep blinking: It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears.

Remember 20-20-20: Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away, minimum.

Get the right light: Good lighting isn’t just flattering – it’s healthy for your eyes. So, keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum. Keep your desk lamp shining on your desk, not you. Try to keep window light off to the side, rather than in front or behind you. Use blinds and get a glare screen. Position the computer screen to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights.

Monitor your monitor: Keep it at least 20 inches from your eyes. Center should be about 4 to 6 inches below your eyes. Also, make sure it’s big enough and with just the right brightness and contrast.  Adjust the screen so you look at it slightly downward and are about 24 to 28 inches away. Adjust the screen settings to where they are comfortable — contract polarity, resolution, flicker, etc.

Wear those computer glasses: Your doctor can prescribe a pair of eyeglasses just for viewing the computer screen well. If necessary, wear the appropriate corrective lenses while at the computer.

Talk to your doctor: During your eye exam, your eye doctor can check for more than just computer vision problems. She’ll look for signs of health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It’s an important part of your overall health routine.

Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome.


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