What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Affecting over 60 million people around the world, Computer Vision Syndrome happens when the eye muscles are unable to recover from constant tension caused by maintaining focus on a close...

By Corina Tan

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In this day and age, it is almost impossible to function and stay connected without the use of either our smartphones, laptops or computers.  Most of our work requires it, and if that isn’t enough, almost all if not most of our social interactions are reliant upon screen time.  We follow our friends, keep up to date on the latest news, do research when planning a holiday, look up new recipes to try, learn how to cultivate a new hobby and keep ourselves entertained.  As computers and gadgets have become so much a part of our lives, staring at these digital screens for prolong periods of time is bound to cause eye strain.  Muscles in our eyes have to work overtime and as a result can eventually break down and cause unpleasant symptoms.  Blurry vision, tired eyes, strained neck, headaches, itchy eyes, red eyes, teary eyes and dry eyes all fall under the heading of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).  CVS happens when the eye muscles are unable to recover from constant tension caused by maintaining focus on a close object.


According to experts, this syndrome affects 60 million people around the world, but there are a few daily habits that we can all do to reduce our risk for CVS.


Eating leafy greens

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Spinach, kale and broccoli may reduce risk for digital eye strain as they contain special nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin.  These nutrients have exceptional antioxidant powers that protect our eyes from glare.



If leafy greens are difficult to commit to as part of a daily diet, supplementation is a viable option.  A dosage of approx. 20 to 25 mg of both lutein and zeaxanthin is recommended.


Adjusting computer position

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Positioning the computer screen 20-28 inches from our eyes, and placing it slightly below eye level, making sure that that the neck is not tilting upward or downward can help.  Text size, brightness, contrast and images can also be adjusted to make viewing more visible and easier to read.


Follow the 20-20 rule

While a simple solution may be to reduce screen time, this may not be an option especially if our jobs and productivity is dependent on it.  Alternatively, when we start to feel the strain, we can try the 20-20 rule which is basically for every 20 minutes spent concentrating on a screen, take a break and look out into the distance for 20 seconds.  Doing this helps eyes relax, reduces eye strain and prevents headaches.


Limit blue light exposure

Short wavelength energy coming off screens is called ‘blue light’ which irritates the eyes and causes unconscious squinting, leading to headaches and neck strain.  Limiting the amount of recreational screen time is especially vital for adults over 40, whose eyes are already beginning to strain due to age.


Wear reading glasses

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Over-the-counter reading glasses aren’t just for older people, as they relieve strain on the eyes regardless of age.  They bring screens sharply into focus and help reduce eye strain.  For those already on prescription glasses, make sure the prescription is correct and up to date.  It may be a good idea to upgrade to lenses that also protect against blue light.


Adjusting posture

It is important that the workspace is designed to promote good posture while sitting in front of a laptop or computer.  Sitting up straight instead of slouching is absolutely vital, avoiding the neck and head from leaning forward.  Shoulders should also be relaxed and not hunched or slouched.  Use a chair with the right height, keep feet flat on the floor and knees at level or higher than the hips.  Make sure to have proper back support by sitting back and ensuring that the back of the chair supports the spine.


These simple lifestyle changes help to ease, reduce or prevent symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome but if symptoms still persist or get worse, it is best to schedule an appointment to check that they aren’t indicative of some other underlying health condition.

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