Monday, April 20, 2015

The Computer Vision Symdrome (CVS)

We live in a digital world, and electronic gadgets are an essential part of it. The modern human race cannot be imagined without fast computers and smart phones. These smart devices no doubt have made life more productive. But, as virtues attract vices; these desirable gadgets also spell some undesirable health maladies. The following discussion focusses on one of the glaring issues of modern world that can be attributed to long term usage of these devices, THE COMPUTER VISION SYMDROME (CVS)
CVS, sometimes also called as Digital Eye Strain, refers to a group of physical functional conditions of the Eye arising from using light emitting devices such as television, computers, e-reader, tablets, cell phones etc. People who work with these digital devices for a prolonged period (generally two hours or more) generally experience pain, discomfort of the eye and other vision related issues. The most commonly experienced symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome are

  • Fatigue of the eyes
  • Acute eye pain
  • Nagging Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dryness and redness of eyes

Many of the above symptoms show up temporarily and wane after withdrawing from intensive computer use e.g. A weekend break for an IT professional. But, some individuals may continue to experience the difficulties or even gradual deterioration of the symptoms over a period of time. The reason for these symptoms may be:

  • Inadequate ambient lighting in the workplace
  • High glare of a digital screen
  • Incorrect distance and angle of vision
  • Existing uncorrected vision problems

Why CVS?
Viewing the letters and images on a paper is quite different from viewing them on a digital screen. While reading on a paper requires our eyes to adjust to the ambient light, viewing on a digital screen demands adjustment to many factors of light such as brightness, contrast of the screen, and sharpness of the visual elements along with the ambience. Hence, the eye has to work harder.
The risk of developing CVS in a person depends on his (her) current visual abilities and general health. While some people have high tolerance for light, others are more susceptible. The severity of symptoms also depends on time duration on the screen and viewing pattern (e.g. frequency of shifting focus between key board and screen). Existing vision problems such as farsightedness and astigmatism can enhance the risk of CVS. Inadequate focus or eye coordination abilities, and age induced changes of the eyes, such as Presbyopia can also significantly affect visual abilities of using digital screens and may cause visual fatigue. Improper ergonomics such as the viewing distance, viewing angle etc. also contribute to eye strain and hampers optimum vision. Persons working for two or more hours continuously at a computer or digital screen device most of the time are at greater risk of developing Digital Eye Strain symptoms.
Eye is one of the five important senses of our body and one must take necessary precautions to protect its functionality and comfort in using them. Some important factors in prevention of the symptoms of CVS are intricately linked to the use of light emitting devices. So, following the guidelines hereunder will help you find comfort for your eyes and saving them the strain caused due to demanding professional tasks.

  • Work station Ergonomics- Studies have found that most people are comfortable with a computer screen when it is placed 15 to 20 degrees below the eye level and 25 inches from the eyes. So, arrange your work station accordingly to reduce eye strain.
  • Proper workplace ambience – Bright overhead lights tend to interfere with the eye focus. Hence adjusting the room lighting by using blinds or curtain on windows and using low wattage bulbs will help cool off the ambience.
  • Monitor settings: The level of brightness, contrast and colour on the digital screen should be at a comfortable level and not at the maximum. If the luminance on the screen is more, use of anti-glare covers significantly reduces or polarizes the reflected luminosity, thereby easing off the eye strain. Use eye-glasses (vision corrected) specially designed for working with computer monitors.
  • Take frequent breaks – If you need to work long periods with digital monitors, move away from your desk and take a stroll for 10 minutes every hour or so. While working, follow the famous 20-20-20 rule i.e. every 20 minutes look away from the screen up to a distance of 20 feet. your eyes when using the computer for long periods.

  • Eye Check-up – Visit your physician at regular intervals for precise evaluation of your eye status and correction of vision defects (if any).

Your eyes are the windows to this vibrant world. Keep them clean and healthy. Happy viewing…






Dr. E. Ravindra Mohan
Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist Y Oculoplastic Surgeon
Global Health City

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