Computer Vision Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Computer Vision Syndrome
Written by Kane Dane

Reading in the dark, holding your digital device up too close and using small fonts! These are the crimes we are all familiar with! We have even done them ourselves quite so often. In fact, chances are you do not even realize how badly they are affecting your vision. As most of the computer vision syndrome symptoms tend to be temporary, we remain unfamiliar with this plague called Computer Vision Syndrome. The Computer Vision Syndrome treatments are easy and take no time at all!

So, the real question is: “How do we escape from this labyrinth of staring at the computer?”.

The answer is perhaps you cannot. Workers, especially, need to use the computer for 8 hours straight! However, this does not mean they have to suffer through this horrible illness.


Read ahead and find out!

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome is quite like Digital Eye Strain that results due to prolonged use of certain digital devices like computers or phones. In a fast-paced world like ours, more than 90% in the US admitted to using some kind of digital device. It should come as no surprise that the average American worker is at 80% risk of developing the said disease.

According to Wikipedia:

“CVS is an ailment that consequences due to gazing with your eyes on a computer, laptop or any other digital screens for a large amount of uninterrupted time. That makes almost impossible for eye muscles to recover from the enormous amount of strain they are put under.”

Similar to other repetitive motion eye injuries, CVS is caused because your eyes follow the same path over and over again. Many users report that they experience some sort of eye discomfort after spending hours at work. The level of discomfort seems to increase with the prolonged exposure.

What are the causes of Computer Vision Syndrome?

When researching on the internet, you might find the causes of the CVS to be pretty vague. CVS is actually not a singledisease; it is, in fact, an accumulation of a large number of symptoms caused by a variety of factors.

Viewing a digital screen can make the eyes work harder. Most studies have found that office workers tend to be more affected by CVS than others. The most probable reason is that they tend to spend more time on the computer screen than others who work in the field.

Now, you might be wondering, “What are these factors that result in Computer Vision Syndrome?

Well, first and foremost, CVS is caused by longer exposure time to digital screens. Research shows that CVS can develop if you spend more than 2 hours working on the computer.

According to Spektrum:

“The average American worker spends more than 8 hours on the computer screen either at home or office.”

Reading requires you to move your eyes from left to right repetitively. This can strain your eyes as your eyes constantly move and focus on the letters. However, when these letters are put on a printed page, this tends to increase the problem tenfold.

The letters on a digital screen may not be sharp or they may have poor contrast against the background. Furthermore, most computers tend to have glare and flickering problems.

Think: “How much do you have to strain your eyes to read grey words on a black background?”.

When you visit web pages, you often do not have the choice to choose your own contrast or sharpness. Viewing distances and angles come into play as well. One of the most common causes of CVS is simply viewing these devices too closely. This is because when you look at something up close, your eye muscles tend to be flexed to their full capacity.

Uncorrected and under corrected vision can lead to eye discomfort as well. However, eye discomfort is not the only condition it can cause. When you do not have the proper subscription, you may bend or tilt your neck to see the screen properly. This can result in neck strain as well.

Even if you do wear your correct prescription glasses, chances are you still have problem viewing the screen. Forget the glare from the computer! Your own glasses have a tendency to cause glare!

So, all in all, Computer Vision Syndrome can be caused by:

  1. Prolonged exposure to Digital Screens.
  2. Improper viewing distance
  3. Bad computer ergonomics
  4. Under-corrected or uncorrected vision
  5. Glare
  6. Brightness
  7. Flickering
  8. Blue light
  9. Poor lighting
  10. Repetitive eye motion
  11. A combination of all these factors.

What are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome is not one specific problem; it is in fact a wide variety of eye strain and pain problems that result from prolonged exposure to digital screens.

So, how common is it?

A research explained:

“Almost 50-90% of all people who use computers experience some kind of symptoms.”

The extent to which they experience the variety of symptoms depends on their personal visual abilities.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

In such a situation, a question might arise: “Is CVS serious or dangerous?”.

The quick answer is no. Most of the symptoms of CVS are temporary. They can usually be eliminated through proper eye rest and vision correction.

However, it can affect the quality of life and the productivity of workers. The symptoms, if left uncontrolled, can lead to recurrences and can even worsen.

Sufferers can exhibit continued blurred vision and other eye problems.

The most common symptoms include:

  1. Eye strain
  2. Headaches
  3. Neck and shoulder pain
  4. Dry eyes
  5. Irritated eyes
  6. Blurred vision
  7. Double vision
  8. Vertigo
  9. Dizziness
  10. Polyopia
  11. Difficulty refocusing

Most Americans reported the following symptoms:

CVS Symptoms Experienced Statistics
Eye Fatigue + Tired Eyes64.95%
Eye Strain48.83%
Neck / Shoulder Pain44%
Irritation Of Eyes37.5%
Itching / Burning Of Eyes34.38%
Back Pain34.38%
Blurry vision30.48%
General Fatigue25.58%
Arm / Wrist / Shoulder Pain25%

How is it Diagnosed?

The symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome are quite common and occur frequently.

So, how do you find out if you have CVS? CVS can be easily diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. The tests may include:

  • Patient history: to determine whether the patient is experiencing the symptoms from general health, medications or CVS.
  • Visual acuity: to assess the extent of the CVS.
  • Refraction: to determine the correct lens power.
  • Focus: to look for problems that keep your eyes from focusing effectively.

Using this information, an optometrist can diagnose whether you have CVS and then advise you upon the different treatment options.

What is the Impact?

Since the modern world works on technology and nearly everyone has some sort of computer or digital device they use every day. As our exposure to these pixelated screens increase, cases of CVS increase as well.

It should be no surprise that the most frequent health complaint amongst office workers is vision related. CVS has become a major public health issue. Optometrists found that approximately 10 million eye exams are annually performed in the US due to CVS related issues.

You might wonder, “Is it really that common?”.

According to US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

“90% of people who spend more than three hours on the computer are affected by CVS.”

Employers should provide proper eye Care and treatment to its workers as the vision of the workers can drastically decrease their productivity.

Computer Worker

So, what is the impact of CVS on worker’s productivity? Well, there is a direct correlation between vision and the time required for an office worker to perform a task.

Studies suggest that the profit from the increased productivity is worth the cost!

According to UAB, worker productivity can decrease by about 20%. A study conducted in Malaysia showed that about 89.9% of students experienced symptoms of CVS.

According to Statistic Brain:

  • A total of 10 million US citizens visit the eye doctor due to CVS.
  • 70 percentage of all US workers experience CVS daily.
  • Each month sixteen new patients are treated by ophthalmologists due to CVS.

How Can It Be Treated?

Although CVS poses no serious threat, it should be treated as soon as possible as it can affect the quality of life as well as productivity.

The most effective treatment methods are:

1. Proper Eyeglasses

While some individuals may not need to use glasses daily, using them while working on a computer can benefit them immensely. This already with prescription glasses may not find their glasses adequate enough to provide proper vision for CVS.

It can be corrected through:

  • Using eyeglasses with special lens design specifically for computer use.
  • Wearing a small powered pair of glasses over the counter. These glasses can help sufferers to regain their ability in focusing.
  • Wearing amber colored lenses can improve tearing, dry eyes and irritation caused by CVS. They can help treat delayed sleep phase disorder and affect the circadian rhythm.

2. Blue Light Filters

The computer screen temperature can affect the eyes as well. There are certain longer wavelength hues that cause eye strain like blues and purples. Shorter wavelength lights such as oranges and reds soothe the eyes.

Blue light can be reduced by:

  1. Software applications such as Flux, Redshift, and night Shift etcetera reduce the amount of blue light at special times such as night.
  2. Blue light filtering lenses decrease specific light emissions. Studies show that theoretical reductions in phototoxicity ranged from 10.6 to 23.6%. Gunnar Optiks and Razer Inc. are the leading company in creating blue filter lenses.
  3. Setting your monitor temperature to a more reddish hue that will cause less strain on your eyes.

3. Vision Therapy

Some users might find that the problem is not with the equipment or settings they are using. CVS can be a reason of natural difficulty in focusing or eye coordination. For these individuals, eyeglasses and lenses can’t correct the problem.

Vision therapy includes a structured program with various visual exercises that improve vision. These activities promote eye coordination. They help remedy problems of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement.

4. Antiglare screens

Glare can cause you to strain while reading on a digital screen. Glare can be reduced by:

  1. Using a matte screen that does not reflect light back.
  2. Use anti-glare lenses as glare can be caused by some glasses as well.
  3. Reduce external lighting.

5. Lighting

Poor lighting can cause you to strain your eyes to see. However, too much lighting can cause glare on the screen as well.

  1. Ensure there is no external light source overhead.
  2. Ensure there are no light sources in front of your computer screen.
  3. Ensure all windows are covered by blinds.
  4. Use soft lighting sources such as floor lamps.

6. Breaks

The number one cause of CVS is continuous working on the screen.

This is why you should take frequent breaks between work.

  1. The 20-20-20 Rule dictates that you work for 20 minutes and then take a 20 second break by looking at an object 20 feet away. This will relax your eyes and release some of the tension.
  2. Another method is to take 15 minute breaks after every two hours. According to experts, you should probably visit the restroom or the water cooler for a change of view.

7. Ergonomics

A lot of the symptoms can be eliminated by simply sitting in a proper position or by simply positioning the screen to a more comfortable position.

  1. Your neck and head should be upright, in line with the chair.
  2. You should face forward towards the screen. Avoid turning your head or twisting your back.
  3. Position your monitor so that the screen is slightly below eye level.
  4. Adjust the screen away from any external light source.
  5. Place them close enough so your eyes can comfortably read the text without needing to bend forward.
  6. Use a document holder to hold your documents up to screen level.
  7. Use enlarged text.
  8. Use white background with black text.


So, what’s the bottom line?

Computer Vision Syndrome is a plague that haunts the digital world. More than 90% American workers are affected by this disease. Employers need to set up training camps and arrange frequent ophthalmologist checkups as they would improve the vision of the workers as well as help them increase their daily productivity.

Surely, the profits gained will be unmatched by the cost!


Kane Dane