Column: How to prevent computer vision syndrome


Commentary by Dr. Hannah Wilson

According to the American Optometric Association, the average American spends seven hours per day on a screen. Prolonged digital device use can have a profound impact on our eyes. In fact, there is now a condition termed computer vision syndrome, which encompasses the vision-related problems that arise from sustained screen use.

Digital devices force our eyes to work harder, making us susceptible to eye fatigue and discomfort. Individuals who spend two or more continuous hours on a screen are most at risk for developing CVS. Symptoms of CVS include eye strain, blurred vision, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. A multitude of factors, such as viewing angle, poor lighting, glare and uncorrected refractive error all contribute to our discomfort. Fortunately, CVS is unlikely to cause permanent ocular damage. Simple steps can be taken to prevent visual symptoms before they appear.

Consider adhering to the 20/20/20 Rule. For every 20 minutes of screen use, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Giving your eyes brief periods to relax and refocus is essential to preventing CVS. Tweaks to your workspace can also minimize your risk for CVS. For most comfortable viewing, your screen should sit 20 to 28 inches from your eyes (at or just beyond your arm’s length). Ideally, the height of your screen should be 4 to 5 inches below your eye level, and your screen should be positioned away from overhead lights or windows.

Last but certainly not least, make sure to visit your optometrist for an annual comprehensive eye exam. Uncorrected conditions like farsightedness, astigmatism, inadequate eye teaming and aging changes within the eyes can all contribute to the development of CVS. Furthermore, many individuals benefit from the use of computer glasses, which can be tailored to your specific workspace for the most efficient and comfortable vision.

Dr. Hannah Wilson is an optometrist at RevolutionEYES and Little Eyes Pediatric Eye Care in Carmel. She is happy to answer any questions regarding family vision needs and can be reached at [email protected].