Computer Vision Syndrome

By Stephanie Venter - B.Optom (UFS)

Most of us who aren't office-bound and stuck in front of a computer all day, probably have more exposure to electronic devices than what we think. In many instances symptoms like headaches, burning eyes and red eyes can be explained by the ripple effect of a bad posture, poor workstation set-up and the need of spectacles. Putting all the puzzle pieces together, you will realise that most cases can be explained by Computer Vision Syndrome. This is a condition which includes blurred vision, double vision, frequent headache or neck pain, light sensitivity, irritated eyes and backache.

To make life a little bit easier for yourself, you might want to have a look at repositioning your monitor and documents and respond to the 2 yearly reminder of your next visit to an Optometrist to see whether spectacles or eye drops can solve the problem. If we have a closer look at your workstation, it's important to ensure that the glare from your monitor matches that of the surrounding room. Also make sure that there is no direct light from an overhead lamp or sunlight shining on your monitor, if need be, curtains or blinds might make it a little bit more comfortable for you. Tilt your screen so that it is perpendicular to overhead lighting, not parallel to it. Your monitor should be positioned 50-60 cm away from you and it should be slightly (10-20 degrees) below your eyes. Lately, computers come out with a good quality anti-glare coating and a monitor which can easily swivel up, down and sideways to allow you to adapt it according to your needs. 

Investing in a copy stand to place your documents between your keyboard and screen is something you will really not regret. This will reduce the change in focus and also improve your posture, so in essence, less eyestrain, back pain and neck pain. Give your eyes a break every 40 minutes by looking out of the window or across a room at a distant object.

It is very important that you can describe your workstation to your optometrist when you have your eyes examined. Lenses on the market can vary from normal reading spectacles, office lenses, multifocal lenses and bifocal lenses. All of of them having their strong points and their limitations, therefore you will often find that a combination of two types of lens designs might be just what you need to cover all your visual demands. A good anti-reflective coating or blue-blocker coating can be added to most of the lenses to reduce glare and reflections. While working on a computer, your blinking rate can be reduced from 22 blinks per minute to 7 blinks per minute. An eye drop with a good constitution might already make a big difference to the comfort of your eyes in terms of red and burning eyes.

Having all this said, look out for the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome so that you can make the necessary adjustments to your day-to-day activities.