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Simple Ways To Avoid Computer Vision Syndrome

Updated on November 20, 2014

Computer Vision Syndrome : Be Eye Aware

If you use a computer regularly, there is quite a high chance that you suffer from CVS, that is Computer Vision Syndrome. Ergonomic studies have shown that most computer users have some or all of the eye problems that can develop with prolonged use of computers.

Working with my adult beginner students in their computing class, I make sure to remind them to blink. It's a simple, but effective preventative measure. Viewing a computer screen close-up, and focusing intently on it, can cause you to stare at the screen. After a while, this will reduce the rate at which you blink, leading to dry eyes and eye strain. In turn this can lead on to other eye problems and headaches. Blinking and keeping hydrated are useful tips for us all. In this lens, I offer some additional preventative measures and tips that I hope will help you reduce or prevent CVS symptoms.

The photos on this page are my own, and copyright to me, unless otherwise stated. Please do not use without my written permission.

Safe Viewing - Allow your eyes to rest

One very simple way to reduce eye strain is to allow the eye muscles to rest. If you focus continually on the computer screen, you can overload the muscles for close vision. The solution is simple, just look away from the screen and focus on something at least 20 feet away. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. You just have to remember to do it! If you work too intently to remember, you could try using a built-in reminder, such as the EyeDefender freeware rest reminder.

Another useful option is a pair of computer glasses. They have lenses specially designed to reduce the eye strain that can come with prolonged computer use. You should, in any case, have regular eye checks. If you need corrective glasses or contact lenses, wearing them will help to protect your eyes. If you don't need to wear corrective lenses, you could still find computer glasses beneficial and you should certainly consult an eye doctor if you are having any eye problems from computer use.

There are many Designs of Computer Glasses available

Generally, they are not expensive, and could save you years of headaches and eyestrain. I find it surprising how often I have to suggest to adult beginners that they get their vision checked. this is usually because they are hunched up close to the screen, squinting or complaining that they can't read text on the screen. If you have any of these difficulties, please get your eyes checked.... For your own good!

Dr Grant’s Computer Eyes. Customized Age Specific Optometrist Designed Computer Glasses. (Ages 40-59. See All Age Specific Models Available)
Dr Grant’s Computer Eyes. Customized Age Specific Optometrist Designed Computer Glasses. (Ages 40-59. See All Age Specific Models Available)

Dr Grant's Computer ultra lightweight rimless glasses are available in three age appropriate lens powers to relax your eye muscles and help focus. The tinted lenses enhance images and contrast, while the anti-reflective coating helps to reduce glare. They also have a UV coating to protect your eyes from screen radiation.

 
PCX12 Computer Glasses - Magnification Level 1
PCX12 Computer Glasses - Magnification Level 1

PCX12 Computer Glasses are available in 3 different Magnification Levels. They can help you to maintain the correct distance from the computer screen (18-24 inches), reduce glare and help to prevent eye strain and headaches. Click for more information about Magnification levels 1,2 or 3.

 

Clip-Ons

If you prefer to wear your own glasses, but would like some protection, you can opt for clip-ons.

Task-Vision Computer Clip-On Readers - No Magnification
Task-Vision Computer Clip-On Readers - No Magnification

For increased contrast and sharper detail on the computer screen, these very light (21 grams), comfortable computer lenses are easy to use, as they simply clip onto your prescription glasses. You can flip them up, when not needed for the computer screen, They have distortion-free, anti-reflective and scratch resistant lenses.

 

Top Quality Gunnar Computer Glasses

A little more expensive, but great computer glasses. Click on any of the pictures for more information, and the current prices, or to see more choices.

Do You Take Breaks?

I tell my students to take regular breaks when computing. They usually nod wisely... but, I wondered if they do take breaks from computing when they go home.

Tell the truth, do you take regular breaks from your computer?

See results

The Best View

Whether you use a desktop computer or a laptop, there are some issues to bear in mind. For me, the first is size. As a teacher of computing, I believe you should minimise your use of small-screened devices. I have a desktop computer, a laptop, a netbook and an iPad. It's very difficult to work on the netbook - I bought it for emergency use whilst travelling. It was OK for emails and facebook, but I found it hard to write letters or edit photos with such a small screen. The iPad has a slightly larger working screen, but I see this more as a fun, communication toy. It gave the netbook the boot from my travel bag as it is significantly lighter. So, when I work seriously, it has to be the larger-screened desktop or laptop computers.

When I got fed up with the hefty old monitor taking up most of my working space, I upgraded to a flat-screen monitor. I couldn't even give the old monitor away! Not surprising really, as it was so difficult to move around (ouch, my back...). For good computer-health, it should be possible to adjust the position of your monitor to prevent back and neck ache, and cut glare (see below). The prices of LED and LCD flat-screen monitors have reduced significantly in the last few years, and the quality has improved dramatically, so it is now possible to get a sleek, large-screened monitor at a very reasonable price.

Once you have the right monitor, make sure it is adjusted to suit you. It's easy to adjust the brightness of the screen. For a PC, click the start button, select "control panel" from the menu. This will open the control panel window. Select "hardware & sound", and then "display". Here you can adjust screen resolution, screen brightness, and other display settings, such as text size.

Use the best equipment you can

It's not necessarily about spending a lot of money. It's more about considering the size of your work space, the layout of the room, and checking out the consumer reviews available on all good websites.

Do you need to replace your monitor?

Using a good quality monitor can completely change your computing experience! I'm very happy with my Viewsonic monitor.

Dell UltraSharp U2414H 23.8” Inch Screen LED Monitor
Dell UltraSharp U2414H 23.8” Inch Screen LED Monitor

Dell is a well-known and trusted name in computing. Color reproduction is very good on the bright display, so text and photos are clear and crisp.

The Dell has a 23.8 Inches Full HD display, with an amazingly thin bezel.

It is VESA mount compatible, but has a versatile stand included, which allows pivot, swivel, and rotate up to 90 degrees.

 
Ctl Corp Ctl Lp2361 24" Led Lcd Monitor - 16:9 - 2 Ms (mtlp2361) -
Ctl Corp Ctl Lp2361 24" Led Lcd Monitor - 16:9 - 2 Ms (mtlp2361) -

The LP2361 is another monitor that has received excellent reviews. It is a versatile high definition monitor, with ultra-slim profile, suitable for any work or home environment. It has 23.6 inch viewing area, 16:9 display ratio, and 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.

 

Keep your distance

Over the years, I have seen a few students who hunch-up close to the computer screen. I usually ask them if they have had their eyes checked recently. If not, I advise that they should. Sitting to close to the screen can aggrevate the issues caused by glare. It can also lead to postural problems, back and neck ache. If you need to wear glasses for computing, please do so - protect your vision!

Your viewing distance should be 18 to 24 inches, looking slightly down at the monitor, elbows at your sides, and your wrists straight. Check yourself now!

And, keep it tidy, unlike the photo... If your workspace is untidy and cluttered, it will be much more difficult to keep on top of your workload and keep up these good health tips.

The photo, by AlainV, is in the public domain. I have cropped and resized it.

Laptop trays

I'm not a great believer in slouching on the couch or lying in bed with a laptop. However, if you must do it, you can mitigate some of the issues by using a correctly designed laptop tray. And, that doesn't mean "a cushion"! Laptop trays can also be very useful for preventing the laptop from over-heating. That, I approve of!

Adjustable Vented Laptop Table
Adjustable Vented Laptop Table

Adustable height to mitigate postural problems, vented to keep laptop cooler.

 
Atlantic Notebook Tray (33935843)
Atlantic Notebook Tray (33935843)

Adustable height to mitigate neck and back problems.

 

Are you sitting comfortably?

Don't forget this important aspect of computer health and safety. You should be able to sit comfortably, at the correct distance, and with your back appropriately supported.

Ergonomically-designed kneeling chairs can help you regain a natural posture and reduce lower back strain. They also sit you in a correct position to allow your diaphragm to move efficiently, which is good for promoting better circulation and breathing.

Myth or Reality?

Are we obsessed with health and safety? Is it all just a scare story? Or is it sensible to take some precautions to protect your eyes?

Do you consider your health while using the computer?

Definitely, I try to keep my eyes safe and prevent back pain

Definitely, I try to keep my eyes safe and prevent back pain

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    • lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      Yes, and my aching back keeps reminding me, in case I forget. Really, I'm having a difficult time remembering such things as, to blink!

    • Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Sure, I do. I use a footstool to keep my feet elevated and take lots of breaks.

    • savateuse 4 years ago

      @Mamabyrd: Or, you could try a kneeling chair. They can help reduce back strain.

    • Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      I have really been trying to remember to sit up straight. My neck and my back have been hurting me so I'm not sure I'm doing a very good job. I think I'm going to start sitting on a medicine ball.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I do, but not as often as I should.

    • goo2eyes lm 4 years ago

      not at all. come what may. money seems to be more important. i have to take care of myself, who else will?

    • netroadies 4 years ago

      definitely take precautions

    • hartworks lm 4 years ago

      I do work at it -- even have a sign that says BLINK-BLINK-BLINK taped above my monitor -- but there are inevitably times when I focus so much on what I am writing that physical reality fades away... I do a lot of stretches and also relax in the hot tub, to balance that!

    I don't have time for it

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      Cut the glare

      Glare is one of the main causes of eye strain. A bit like magpies, we have a tendency to like bright, shiny objects, but bright, shiny computer screens are a definite eye-health hazard. There are some simple tips for cutting down glare to protect your eyes.First, make sure that your screen is positioned and adjusted correctly. If you can, place the screen at 90 degrees to your window, but don't sit in a twisted way, as that will just give you a different kind of problem! Anti-glare film on your windows can cut glare and help to maintain a comfortable working temperature in the summer months.

      If you work after dark, be careful about the room-lighting. You should diffuse the light on ceiling lamps or desk lamps by using a shade or globe to soften the light. But, don't work in the dark - it's too difficult to see the keyboard, and will also strain your eyes!

      There are many screen filters available which can be clipped over or attached to the screen. These filters can cut the glare and reduce eye strain, but also they can protect from static and radiation. Pick a lightweight filter, of the correct size for your screen. Some filters also help with privacy and protection of confidential information, by narrowing the angle for the viewing the screen.

      The photo, by Tuakshay, has been released into the public domain. I have cropped and resized it.

      Anti-glare screen filters

      Make sure you select a filter that is the correct size for your computer screen!

      Reduce Glare In Your Rooms

      Of course, it isn't just computer screens that are affected by glare. If you prefer, it is simple enough to fit anti-glare film to your windows. This has the advantage of helping to maintain room temparature during the summer months, and cutting down on harmful radiation. And a bonus: protection of your book covers, photos and other valuable objects from sun-induced fading.

      What are your views on this subject? - Can you share any useful tips?

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        • profile image

          robmonty88 2 years ago

          With new technology being invented and people staring at screens all day, one would think that our eyes might have trouble adapting. Thanks for the helpful information!

        • lesliesinclair profile image

          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          You very effectively called us all to attention.

        • NibsyNell profile image

          NibsyNell 3 years ago

          I really must remember to blink more! :)

        • savateuse profile image
          Author

          savateuse 4 years ago

          @Snakesmum: Great tip here... after looking at the screen for a while, look away into the distance to see something in the garden. Really helps to relax the eyes!

        • Snakesmum profile image

          Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

          I have my PC close to a window, where I can see my cat in her outside pen, and birds on the birdbath. This helps me to look away from the screen more often. Good tips!

        • Mamabyrd profile image

          Mamabyrd 4 years ago

          Great tips especially for those of us who spend so much time on the computer.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I've always wondered about this. Thank you for the helpful tips.

        • profile image

          getmoreinfo 4 years ago

          This information about how to avoid Computer Vision Syndrome, is very useful.

        • Thomo85 profile image

          Thomo85 4 years ago

          Thanks so much for sharing this information. As I work in a mine site office, I spend almost 12 hours a day in front of a computer.

          Thanks again.

        • Virginia Allain profile image

          Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

          I know several freelance writers who have had to layoff from online writing due to eye problems. Important topic.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I didn't know. Thanks for raising my awareness.

        • ATTHED LM profile image

          ATTHED LM 4 years ago

          Some good advice here, thanks

        • Skelly1983 LM profile image

          Skelly1983 LM 4 years ago

          @hotbrain: Will be trying this method myself

        • goo2eyes lm profile image

          goo2eyes lm 4 years ago

          thank you for your kind advices. we need them very badly.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I blinked! good info here

        • hotbrain profile image

          hotbrain 4 years ago from Tacoma, WA

          Very good advice here. I hadn't heard of the 20/20/20 recommendation... I will start trying it!

        • rawwwwwws lm profile image

          rawwwwwws lm 4 years ago

          I must take breaks.. but it's hard

        • MrMojo01 profile image

          MrMojo01 4 years ago

          Great info. I spend way too much time in front of the computer. I'm going to try and follow your 20/20 rule. Thanks!

        • savateuse profile image
          Author

          savateuse 4 years ago

          @SheGetsCreative: Good tip!

          Thanks for the blessing!

        • SheGetsCreative profile image

          Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

          Good tips so many can benefit from! I try to make it a point to get up and move around away from the computer every 45-50 min. *blessed

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