Computer vision syndrome refers to a group of eye and vision related symptoms related to prolonged computer use. These include:
- blurred or fluctuating visual clarity,
- subjective feelings of 'eyestrain',
- dry eyes, and
- neck and shoulder discomfort.
These may occur even from prolonged reading of paper documents/articles, the difference being that computer screens tend to be more fixed in their positions.
Since 'computer vision syndrome' is an overuse problem, the 100% effective cure is to stop using computers, or tablets and other electronic/digital media.
Since computers are such an integral part of life these days, most people just try to mitigate the effects of working with them. There is no one size fits all, because different people will have different degrees of tolerance to staring at screens for prolonged periods of time. The good thing is that no matter how uncomfortable staring at the screens make you feel, there is generally no physical harm caused.
Things that can be tried include making sure any spectacle degree (hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism, presbyopia) is treated as necessary with glasses. Try to ensure the computer screen is at a comfortable distance (again no one distance fits all, as it depends on screen size, arm length, etc), slightly lower than eye level while sitting comfortably, avoiding lights shining directly on the screen which can cause reflections, and also avoiding strong back lights behind the screen (eg from a window) which can sometimes cause glare symptoms.
Short of stopping computer use, remember to take regular breaks eg every 30 minutes or so for a few minutes, during which the eyes can be closed for a while or eyedrops instilled to reduce the effects of dryness.
So there you have it, in a nutshell. Just remember, too much of anything-good or bad-gives rise to problems. So the underlying principle is to find a balance that is just right for you.
Dr Por Yong Ming
MBBS, FRCSEd, FRCS, MRCOphth, MMed
38 IRRAWADDY ROAD
#09 - 26/27/28/29 Singapore 329563