Computer Vision Syndrome
Since technology is such an integral part of our life, most of us spend many hours staring at screens today, whether they are computers, televisions, or our smartphones. This can cause severe strain on our eyes and vision, and lead to many symptoms like headaches, watery eyes, gritty eyes, sore and red eyes, along with neck and back strain. A Computer Vision Syndrome refers to such a state where our eyes start getting these sort of symptoms over a period.
Working adults aren’t the only ones who are dealing with Computer Vision Syndrome. Even children, who use tablets and gaming devices have seen an increase in the symptoms.
When should you visit your Neuro-Ophthalmologist?
Your eye doctor will usually suggest you visit an expert in Neuro-Ophthalmology after a comprehensive eye examination, in case you need special care. Often, the symptoms that prompt such a referral include those associated with optic nerve disease or diseases of the visual pathway (the nervous system component that connects the eyes to the brain). Other reasons could be the diseases affecting the pupils of the eye, and certain kinds of squint (especially paralytic).
Treatment of Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome is a lifestyle disease, and therefore, its prevention is better than its cure. Minor lifestyle modifications can ensure that you enjoy all your screen devices without any hassles.
The changes that you can easily make in your life to avoid the syndrome include:
- Limit screen time:Make sure you are aware of the amount of time you spend on-screen devices and try to decrease your dependence on smartphones.
- Ensure proper posture:Make sure your keyboard is positioned to support your wrists, and your computer screen is positioned so that you can look down on the monitor. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the centre of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes. Do not read off screen devices in bed, or in a semi-reclining
- Take appropriate breaks: Do not stare at a screen without taking breaks. Remember to follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- Think and Blink:Remember to blink since blinking helps redistribute the tear film, and prevents dryness of the eyes.
- Proper light:Ensure that there is proper ambient lighting and do not work in the dark. Also, avoid glare from screens by adjusting its brightness, and ensuring the adequate position of ambient lights.
- Wear spectacles: Make sure your vision problems are treated, and your eyeglasses prescription is up to date. Limit the use of contact lenses since they aggravate dryness and strain.
- Use teardrops: Use over the counter, preservative free lubricating eye drops to soothe your eyes. Do not use honey, rosewater or other home remedies. Do not self-medicate, or use steroid drops unless prescribed by an ophthalmologist.
- See your eye doctor:In case your symptoms persist, please make sure you seek a comprehensive eye examination with your eye doctor since these symptoms can sometimes signify other diseases including undiagnosed refractive errors.
Causes of a Computer Vision Syndrome
There are four main reasons for this syndrome:
- Staring at a bright, lit screen means your rate of blinking decreases. This causes dry eyes which causes symptoms like grittiness, foreign body sensation, “sand in eyes” feeling, redness and soreness of eyes.
- Prolonged staring for near vision results in convergence spasm of the small eye muscles since the eyes are not geared for prolonged near work. This causes headaches, and also sometimes, inability to focus.
- Neck and back staring are the result of improper posture and improper positioning of computer screen or desk, and also using inappropriate chairs. Reading in bed from screen devices also causes significant problems.
- You’re more likely prone to this syndrome if you already have any preexisting dryness of the eyes, or if you are not wearing the correct power of glasses.
How is Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain diagnosed?
Computer Vision Syndrome, or Digital Eye Strain, can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with special emphasis on visual requirements at the computer or digital device working distance, may include:
- Patient history to determine any symptoms the patient is experiencing and the presence of any general health problems, medications taken, or environmental factors that may be contributing to the symptoms related to computer use.
- Visual acuity measurements to assess the extent to which vision may be affected.
- A refraction to determine the appropriate lens power needed to compensate for any refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism).
- Testing how the eyes focus, move and work together. In order to obtain a clear, single image of what is being viewed, the eyes must effectively change focus, move and work in unison. This testing will look for problems that keep your eyes from focusing effectively or make it difficult to use both eyes together.
Low Vision Techniques
Increase the lighting in your house: Replace light bulbs with bulbs of higher wattage, and make all nooks and crannies are adequately illuminated to prevent falls and improve visibility.
- Reduce glare: Adjust light fixtures to minimise Shield your eyes from dazzle by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat or a dupatta/ stole wrapped around your face shielding your eyes.
- Use heavy, bold felt tip markers for writing and shopping lists: Use a whiteboard to mark essential dates and calendars.
- Special low vision devices: Watches, remotes, and thermostats that “talk back” are also readily available, and affordable.