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Are YOU suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome?

Last updated on: November 07, 2012 15:34 IST

You may not know it but Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS is more common than you can imagine. Read on to find out if you're a victim too.

So what exactly is CVS?

Pinching headache, redness in the eyes, dryness, persistent pain in the neck, back and shoulder… these are not signs of aging but a common problem that even children and young adults are facing today. You can blame it on the dependency on electronic gadgets like computers and laptops.

We neglect minor pains thinking it is due to stress, migraine or work pressure but the underlying problem which has grown rapidly in metro cities is Computer Vision Syndrome, a complex of eye or vision problems which are experienced during and related to computer use.

What causes it?

Eyes are the most delicate part of the body. Staring at the brightly-lit computer screen for hours at a stretch is adversely affecting the eyesight of people across the globe. This health condition most commonly occurs when the viewing demand of the task exceeds the visual ability of the video display terminal user. CVS is caused by our eyes and brain reacting differently to characters on the screen than they do to printed characters.

Working at a computer requires focus on the computer screen. In this modern age where everything is getting digital you have to sit for hours in front of the computer screen. Prolonged viewing is the most common cause and it has been proven to be unnatural for the human optical system.

How YOU can avoid contracting CVS

Blinking is very important when working at a computer -- it rewets your eyes to avoid dryness and irritation. When working on a computer, people blink less frequently. The human eye normally blinks approximately 14 times per minute but when we use computer the blinks are limited only 4 to 6 times per minute. Lower blinking rates cause the eye moisture to evaporate and this is generally referred to as dry eye.

Dry eye causes people to arch their foreheads in an effort to see better, thus causing headaches. The awkward, unnatural postures, leads to sore backs, stiff necks and pain in the shoulder.

Aches and pains are often caused by trying to read the screen through the bottom portion of bifocals, or though half-eye reading glasses. You tip your head up or lean forward to see and this unnatural posture makes you sore.

Computer eyeglasses make the screen look clearer because they eliminate the constant refocusing effort that the eyes go through when viewing the screen. It has also been proven clinically that having the correct prescription in computer eyeglasses increases productivity and accuracy.

If you work in a brightly lit office, you may benefit from a light tint applied to your computer lenses. This can cut the amount of light that reaches your eyes and provide relief in some cases. But tints and filters don't address the underlying cause of computer eyestrain.

Tips to safeguard your eyes

Some important steps that you can take to safeguard your eyes from CVS are: use proper lighting, minimize the glaze and brightness of the computer, the quality of your monitor display etc.

More than 70 percent of computer users need computer eyeglasses according to a study performed by the University of California, Berkeley, 25 per cent -30 per cent of children would benefit from computer eyewear.

Ergonomics is a vital aspect of safeguarding your eyes from CVS. Changing one's computer workstation can certainly help to minimise other physical symptoms. But ergonomics cannot fix a visual problem. The proper prescription computer eyeglass at the proper computer distance (18" to 28") is the most important. This can be done only with the right computer lens prescription.

Place your monitor directly in front of you, not off to one side (it should be about 20 to 26 inches away from you).

Make sure your monitor is NOT too high. CVS expert Dr James Sheedy recommends that the center of the screen be four to nine inches below your straight-ahead gaze.

If you reposition your chair, keep in mind that your arms should be parallel to the floor when you type, and your feet should be flat on the floor (or a footstool).

Keep contrast and brightness at moderate levels and reduce your screen glare, you should it a point to make blink rapidly.

Blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes. Do this after every 30 minutes and take frequent breaks and exercise your eyes whenever possible.

Dr Sri Ganesh is the chairman and managing director of Bangalore's Nethradhama Hospital Pvt Ltd.



Dr Sri Ganesh