Computer Vision Syndrome

Have you ever experienced:

  • Eye irritation when on the computer
  • Sensitivity to light
  • 'Heavy' or tired eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Change in color perception
  • Increased blink rate
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Headaches after continued computer use

If you have experienced these side effects, you may suffer from computer vision syndrome.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a temporary condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer display for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time. Some symptoms of CVS include headache, blurred vision, neck pain, redness in the eyes, fatigue, eyestrain, dry, irritated eyes, double vision, polyopia, and difficulty refocusing the eyes. These symptoms can be further aggravated by improper lighting conditions (ie. bright overhead lighting or glare) or air moving past the eyes.

Dr. Howard D. Kahn researched the effects of computer use on vision in the 70's and 80's; he was the president of the Virginia Optometric Association in 1965. Dr. Kahn found that the "most frequent near-point anti-stress lens is a +0.50 to +0.75 over the distance prescription"

The Computer Vision Syndrome Graph

The Computer Vision Syndrome curve is used to describe a trend that has arisen in the field of optometry. Dr. Ross Moore has monitored this trend over 30 years of patient care.

The CVS Curve

(Eye Strain vs. Viewing Distance)

Here's how it works. A + 0.75 prescribed lens will help a person with 20/20 vision avoid a - 0.75 lens in the future. This trend is seen across the board:

  • If a patient has a - 3.00 lens, a - 2.25 lens would prevent the patient from dropping to a – 3.75 lens.
  • If a patient has a + 2.00 lens, a + 2.75 lens would prevent the patient from further problems.

Dr. Moore has found that a set of computer glasses will greatly increase productivity as these imbalances cause serious strain on your eyes.

"Many Suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome" (Winnipeg Free Press – Oct. 2nd, 2009)

If you're wondering why you're straining your eyes to see the computer screen, blame it on evolution. According to a study released Thursday by the Canadian Association of Optometrists, baby boomers are spending an average of 7.5 hours a day peering at computers, televisions, cellphones and smartphones. If we were out hunting and gathering instead, our eyes would get their natural break from intensive close-range staring and baby boomers wouldn't be flocking to optometrists with so many eye-strain complaints.

Instead, we're suffering from computer vision syndrome, CVS. That describes the various symptoms and ailments that are associated with prolonged screen time.

"It is because our eyes were not designed, from an evolutionary perspective, to be staring at a computer screen all day long," said Dr. Antoinette Dumalo, vice-president of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists. "We are asking our eyes to do something they weren't meant for."

Optometrists are seeing more patients with CVS than they were five years ago, and 40 per cent of baby boomers aged 45 to 54 associate their eye and vision problems with prolonged screen time, higher than any other age group, according to a survey conducted by Leger Marketing for the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

By: Gillian Shaw — Canwest News Service (Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 2nd, 2009)