Introduction to Computer vision syndrome or Digital Eye Strain

Digitalization has become the norm in education, the workplace, and many other areas. Our increasing use of screens, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, has caused more people to suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome or digital eye strain (DES).

Before Covid-19, 5% to 65% of people reported DES. However, during the pandemic, due to limited outdoor activities and widespread online learning, the prevalence of DES among children alone increased to 50-60%. While digitalization has improved our well-being and brought value to our lives, we must also be aware of its drawbacks.

The visuals on digital screens, like pixelated images and flickering displays, can strain our eyes and cause discomfort and vision problems. That’s why it’s important to recognize these issues and take preventive measures to protect our eyes.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is also known as Digital Eye Strain or Computer Eye Syndrome.  In this blog, we will learn more about digital eye strain, exploring this condition in detail. We will also provide practical tips and strategies to help you find a balance, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of technology while safeguarding your eye health.

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome is a real concern caused by various factors that make reading text on digital devices harder on the eyes than printed text. Spending long hours on a computer can lead to digital eye strain symptoms, while reading a book may not cause the same issues.

Factors that lead to digital eye strain are as follows:-

1. Excessive screen time: 

Spending long hours on digital screens contributes to Computer Vision Syndrome. Continuous focusing on a screen at a fixed distance can strain the eyes and lead to vision problems or eye discomfort.

2. Blue light exposure: 

Digital screens emit blue light with short wavelengths and higher energy. Overexposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain and sleep cycle disruption. This becomes especially relevant when using electronic devices during nighttime or in low-light conditions.

3. Distance and angle viewpoint: 

Being too close to the screen or working at an uncomfortable angle can contribute to CVS. Because when the screen is too close, the eyes have to work harder to focus, leading to eye strain. This effect is not just limited to the eye; it also affects the neck and shoulder muscles.

4. Poor ergonomics: 

Incorrect positioning of the computer monitor, chair, and desk can lead to poor posture and strain on the eyes and body. A poorly designed workspace can result in neck and shoulder pain, backaches, and eye discomfort.

5. Pre-existing vision problems:

Individuals with uncorrected vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, may often experience increased eye strain when using digital devices. The eyes have to work harder to compensate than usual for these vision issues, contributing to Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms.

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome

Digital Eye Strain can cause various symptoms that affect the eyes and may affect other body parts too. Here are some symptoms of computer vision syndrome:

  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Eye irritation
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty focusing

While many of these symptoms are typically short-term and tend to diminish or disappear upon discontinuing computer or device use, symptoms can persist for an extended period. 

If you continue to experience discomfort or pain after sufficient rest, you should approach an ophthalmologist for treatment for

What Is the Connection Between Eye Allergies and Computer Vision Syndrome?

While there is no direct link between eye allergies and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain, you may experience similar symptoms. 

Your immune system reacts to pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mould spores, causing eye allergies. On the other hand, Computer Vision Syndrome is related to eye strain and discomfort caused by prolonged use of digital devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. The symptoms of CVS can include digital eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision, but allergens do not cause them.

However, someone with CVS can be more susceptible to eye allergies due to certain factors associated with prolonged screen use.

1. Dry eyes:

Computer Vision Syndrome can cause dryness and irritation of the eyes due to reduced blinking and inadequate tear production. As a result, when the eyes are dry, they become more attractive to allergens, as the natural protective barrier provided by tears is compromised. Allergens can adhere to the eyes’ surface more efficiently, leading to allergic reactions and discomfort.

2. Eye rubbing:

Eye fatigue and strain associated with CVS can lead to a reflexive response to rubbing the eyes. However, rubbing the eyes can worsen eye allergies by releasing more histamines, chemicals released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. Histamines cause itching, redness, and swelling in the eyes. 

Rubbing your eyes can lead to problems like keratoconus, requiring special attention and proper treatment. To better understand how rubbing your eyes can lead to conditions like keratoconus, read this informative blog on our website.

3. Allergic conjunctivitis:

Allergic conjunctivitis is a common eye problem due to exposure to allergens. It causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the white part of the eyes and the inner eyelids. Prolonged screen time and exposure to allergens can exacerbate these symptoms for individuals with CVS.

Preventive Measures for Computer Vision Syndrome

Several preventive measures can be implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and promote healthy eye health. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Ergonomic adjustments
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule
  • Proper lighting
  • Maintain good posture
  • Digital detoxes and breaks
  • Use blue light filters

How to Find Balance to Keep Eyes Safe

It’s not just about taking preventive measures for Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) but also requires adopting specific lifestyle changes that can contribute to healthier eyes. Here are some lifestyle habits that promote overall eye health:

  • Adjust screen brightness and contrast:

To ensure optimal comfort for your eyes, it is recommended to adjust the brightness of your screen to match the ambient brightness in the room. This may require you to modify your screen’s brightness levels throughout the day. A screen contrast setting of approximately 60% to 70% is generally considered comfortable for the eyes.

  • Make the text bigger:

Avoid attempting to read tiny fonts, and if the font size is below 12, it is advisable to zoom in for better readability. Additionally, adjust your settings to ensure you are reading dark print on a light background, as this can enhance visual clarity.

  • Balanced diet: 

Adding a nutritious diet that includes vitamins and minerals benefits eye health. Focus on consuming foods high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and zinc. Include leafy green vegetables, colourful fruits, fish, nuts, and seeds in your diet.

  • Rearrange your desk:

It is recommended to position your monitor slightly below eye level, approximately 20 to 28 inches away from your face. This arrangement ensures you don’t strain your eyes or stretch your neck to view the screen.

  • Hydration:

Proper hydration supports overall eye health and helps prevent dryness of the eyes.

  • Regular exercise:

Regular physical exercise helps promote and improve blood circulation and overall well-being, including eye health.

  • Proper sleep habits:

Get sufficient and quality sleep each night. A good night’s sleep allows your eyes to rest and regenerate, promoting overall eye health and reducing eye fatigue.

  • Eye protection:

Wear appropriate eye protection when engaging in activities that may pose a risk to your eyes, such as sports or specific work environments. Protective goggles, safety glasses, or other eye gear can help prevent injuries and maintain optimal eye health.

  • Regular breaks from screens:

Take regular breaks from prolonged screen use. Engage in activities that give your eyes a break, such as looking at distant objects, practising eye exercises, or simply closing your eyes for a few moments.

When Do You Need to See an Eye Specialist?

In this blog post, we have explored digital eye strain, shedding light on its causes, symptoms, prevention methods, and treatment options. Adopting healthy habits and implementing the recommendations provided can minimise the risks associated with eye allergies and digital eye strain.

If you are experiencing eye allergies or digital eye strain, Dr Ritika Dalal is the expert you can contact without hesitation. Schedule a consultation with her to receive customised guidance, effective remedies utilising modern technology, and empathetic support to assist you in maintaining optimal eye health amidst the digital era.