Vision Eyestrain

Computers are a great work tool and a tremendous resource. Without a computer you wouldn't be reading these helpful tips! However computer use can also result in headaches, blurry or double vision, burning eyes, dry eyes, and other less than desirable side effects. Symptoms may be caused by the way you use your computer and sit at a desk, or could be the result of a vision problem. Your first step should be a visit to your eye doctor for a comprehensive exam.

The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms may be caused by:

  • poor lighting
  • glare on a digital screen
  • improper viewing distances
  • poor seating posture
  • uncorrected vision problems
  • a combination of these factors

The extent to which individuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen. Uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and aging changes of the eyes, such as presbyopia, can all contribute to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen device.

Many of the visual symptoms experienced by users are only temporary and will decline after stopping computer work or use of the digital device. However, some individuals may experience continued reduced visual abilities, such as blurred distance vision, even after stopping work at a computer. If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future digital screen use.

Prevention or reduction of the vision problems associated with Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain involves taking steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for screen viewing, and assuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected.

There are a number of things you can do to arrange and use your desk, computer, and chair to eliminate or minimize discomfort.

1. Adjust your chair:

  • Your back should be snug against the seat.
  • Thigh to trunk angle should be at least 90 degrees.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees or more.
  • The distance from the front of your chair to the hollow of your knee should be 2-4 inches.
  • Your wrist and hand should extend nearly straight from the elbow to the home row of the keyboard.

2. Set up your work surface:

  • A work surface height for computer use is about 26" as compared with the conventional 29" of most tables or desks.
  • For most people, the amount of legroom below the work surface should be about 25" high by 27" wide by 27" deep. Of course, larger people may need more space.

3. Your monitor and keyboard:

  • Adjust your keyboard tilt angle so that your wrists are straight.
  • The top of the monitor should be slightly below horizontal eye level.
  • Locate the monitor 16" to 30" from your eyes. Most people find 20" to 26" most comfortable.
  • Tilt the top of the monitor away from you at a 10 to 20 degree angle. Keep your monitor dust and fingerprint free. Both can reduce clarity.
  • Look for monitors that have received the American Optometric Association Seal of Acceptance.

4. Lighting:

  • Adjust the contrast so that letters are easily read.
  • Eliminate bright light sources from your peripheral vision.
  • Adjust the brightness of the monitor to an intensity that is comfortable for your eyes.
  • Position your monitor perpendicular to windows or other bright light sources to reduce glare.
  • Minimize reflected glare on your monitor by using dimmer switches on lighting, window treatments, and anti-glare screens.