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Computer Vision Syndrome - Eyestrain Symptoms and Solutions 

- How to prevent eyestrain at your computer workstation and the benefits of computer filters

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What is computer vision syndrome? CVS refers to a variety of vision-related symptoms that occur when you regularly work at a computer workstation for two or more hours a day. Studies show that 50% to 90% of computer users experience CVS syndrome, and most are not even aware they have the condition. With increased computer use by children and teens, optometrists are reporting increasing numbers of youngsters exhibiting symptoms of CVS.

Eyestrain symptoms require your awareness and professional attention. Some of the symptoms identified by optometrists include: eyestrain, watery eyes, dry eyes, blurred or double vision, difficulty focusing, a heavy feeling of the eyelids or forehead, after-images, temporary nearsightedness, headaches, neck and back aches. Any of these can negatively impact your mental and physical wellbeing as well as your productivity.

 computer vision syndrome

Glare and other factors causing eyestrain and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

  • Glare is a leading cause of eyestrain and other vision difficulties. Over illumination from lamps, overhead banks of lights, and sunlight streaming through windows can reflect onto a computer screen from various angles,  "wash out" sections of your screen image, and reduce contrast. The muscles of your eye continually refocus to attempt to gain clarity. Such repetitive straining has its effects on the eye muscles. Also, tilting the neck and head to get a clearer screen view from a different angle places strain on those upper neck and head muscles.
  • The nature of computer screens themselves present a vision challenge. Computer images are not solid characters; they're made up of pixels (dots), which makes focusing on them difficult for the human eye.
  • People who are still using CRT monitors have another focus and strain issue, because the screen image signals are dynamic and the screen is constantly being "redrawn"
  • Improper work habits such as staring at your screen for long, uninterrupted stretches of time, sitting too close to the screen, neglecting to step away from your desk for breaks, not placing your monitor in an ergonomic position are all situations that can produce vision as well as muscular skeletal discomfort.

The American Optometric Association has also noted three factors particular to children's computer use that is impacting their vision:

  1. Children have what is termed a "limited degree of self awareness." This means they are unaware of the length of time's passage and its affect on their bodies, and thus they computer task for numerous hours without a break. This promotes eyestrain.
  2. Children's high degree of adaptability causes them to believe that what they see is "normal."  Thus, they often continue working even under conditions when glare is prohibitive or when their vision has begun to blur.
  3. The viewing angle of computer workstations and terminals are often set for adult usage. Children require different viewing heights and angles for optimal comfort and wellbeing.

Ergonomic experts urge parents and teachers to be continuously aware of the positioning and computer practices of children. The length of time children use the computer should be monitored and breaks required. Their desks, keyboards, and monitors should be ergonomically adjusted for the child's height and computer usage. Room lighting and causes of glare should be eliminated. Another very important step is to talk with the children and let them know that blurry vision and odd sight issues are not normal and should be brought to someone's attention.


What can you do to minimize Computer Vision Syndrome?

There are several suggestions made by many professionals to correct computer work environment situations that can lead to the eyestrain symptoms or other manifestations of CVS directly related to the computer work environment. Test your work station and make sure the following recommendations are in place:

  1. There are no screen reflections from overhead or desk task lights.

  2. The work place is well lightened in order to read hardcopies without
    straining your eyes.

  3. All windows are at right angles to the screen and not behind or in
    front of the screen. Lighting is not overly bright.

  4. If you type from a hard copy into the computer, make sure it is
    located at about the same distance from your eyes as the screen
    itself.

  5. The middle of the computer screen is about 20 degrees below your
    eye level, or at a comfortable depth that doesn't require your head to turn or tilt.

  6. Use a monitor with brightness controls and adjust them to a comfortable setting.

  7. Optimize your screen view with one  of our quality anti glare computer filters.

  8. Pay particular attention to symptoms or difficulties children may be experiencing (including rubbing their eyes, tearing, irritated reddened eyes, among other symptoms) they may not mention.

  9. Check with a vision professional if symptoms of discomfort or computer vision syndrome occur.

  10. Take plenty of breaks so your eyes can rest and focus on more distant objects than a computer screen. (For information on eye breaks, check desk exercises.)


For additional information about CVS, check on-line resources such as the following:

Computer Vision Syndrome and Computer Glasses from Macular Degeneration Support.

Eye Resources on the Internet, from the Association of Vision Science Librarians

CVS: How to Treat the Patients You May Not Know You Have, from Pacific University of Oregon's College of Optometry.

Consider using computer filters for anti glare screen benefits.  Glare screens and computer monitor hoods are available for LCDs and also CRT computer monitors. These accessories are very useful in reducing eyestrain symptoms caused by lighting glare. Some computer filters contour to the shape of your monitor, and others hook over. Some CRT models also include anti-radiation and anti-static properties, because these are issues with the older CRT style monitors.

Magnified vision, too. You can also purchase a magnifier computer filter that can double the size of your screen's characters without distortion. While not suitable for serious eye diseases, a computer screen magnifier offers viewing convenience.


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Another computer user health concern for those using CRT monitors: radiation. Individuals who are still using CRT monitors rather than LCD screens also must deal with radiation emission. Video display terminals (such as computer CRTs) give off non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which is composed of electric (E-field) and magnetic (H-field) fields. In the electromagnetic spectrum, the ELF frequencies (30Hz to 300Hz) and the VLF frequencies (3kHZ to 30KHz) are issues. Monitors also give off static electric fields, which can cause the uncomfortable office "shocks" often experienced. The static electric fields have also been indicated as the cause of skin rashes and dermatitis in certain users. Most of our CRT glare filter models offer versions that include conductive coating and grounding cords and provide anti-radiation and anti-static protection.

 
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