You have probably felt the symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) after a long day of working at your computer; a stiff and sore neck, strained eyes that are dry and ache a bit, and possibly a headache. If you experience one or more of these symptoms you are not alone; an estimated 50 to 90 percent of adults who work at a computer experience CVS. The good news is that you do not have to suffer. With a combination of creating a more “eye friendly” work environment and the professional testing and diagnostics of your optometrist, you can reduce the effects of CVS and work more comfortably with greater productivity.

CVS is a result of repetitive motion strain from watching a monitor for long periods of time. When you spend long periods of time looking at a computer screen, the muscles in your eyes, shoulders, and neck can become fatigued, causing pain and discomfort. Other factors that can contribute to CVS include:

– Poor lighting
– Glare on the computer screen
– Uncorrect vision problems
– Flicker in CRT monitors
– Poor posture
– Improper distance from the monitor

Most commonly, the symptoms of CVS include blurred and / or double vision, pseudo myopia (a temporary accessibility to focus correctly on distant objects), and squinting. Other indicators of CVS include dry eyes, pain in the neck and shoulders, headaches, dizziness or vertigo. If left untreated, these symptoms will not improve and may only get worse.

Making your Workspace Eye Friendly
There are a number of ways you can make your work space friendlier and easy on your eyes. First, position your monitor so that there is no glare from the outside (such as reflected sun glare through a window) or inside light sources (overhead lighting or lamps in your work area). If it is impossible to rearrange your work space, install a glare filter on your monitor. Next, make sure your monitor is about 20 to 28 inches away from your eyes. Your monitor should also be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level. In addition, make sure you have a comfortable chair the helps you keep a good posture. If you are still using an older CRT monitor, consider upgrading to a newer LCD screen that is more “eye friendly.” The flicker and resolution of the older CRT monitors can cause considerable eye strain and more sensitive to glare than LCD monitors. Finally, take a break. Every twenty minutes stop and look away from your monitor and allow your eyes to relax and refocus. And do not forget to blink.

How Your Optometrist Can Help You
During your next optometrist appointment, be sure to mention any symptoms of CVS you feel you may be experiencing. Ask your optometrist to recommend ways to help you with your CVS, and if computer glasses could be an option for you. Your “regular” glasses (for reading or driving) are often not optimal for computer use, especially if you use bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses. Your optometrist can prescribe computer glasses specifically designed to correct and optimize your vision for proper focal point. In addition, your computer glasses should have an anti-reflective coating, which can go a long way to reducing glare. Finally, your computer glasses can also be tinted to block “blue light.” Blue light is a short-wavelength light computer monitors emit that is associated with eye fatigue.

With all of the options and solutions available to you, do not suffer needlessly. Talk with your optometrist about CVS and rid yourself of the pain and discomfort that staring at a computer monitor can cause.