There are many individuals in Northern Colorado who have experienced Computer Vision Syndrome. Computer Vision Syndrome (or CVS) is described as a group of eye and vision-related problems which are the result of prolonged computer use. Some people experience eye discomfort and vision problems during and after viewing a computer screen for long periods of time. For most people the level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of computer use.

Symptoms

A short list of general symptoms most commonly associated with Computer Vision Syndrome in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and / or shoulder pain.

The source of the symptoms may be caused by any of the following; poor lighting, glare on the computer screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems, a combination of these factors.

The time span that a person spends working on the computer seems to directly correlate with the amount of CVS that that person experiences. Another factor in the equation is an individual’s general eyesight capabilities. Other factors include uncorrected vision issues including:

  • farsightedness and
  • astigmatism,
  • inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and

  • aging changes of the eyes, such as
  • presbyopia,

All of these vision issues may contribute to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer.

For many people in Northern Colorado and around the globe, most of these symptoms experienced by computer users are only temporary and stop after discontinuing work on the computer. There are some people who might encounter continuation of lessened visual abilities. If action is not taken to correct the root of the issue then the symptoms will continue and quite possibly worsen with continued computer use.

To best prevent or reduce the eyesight issues commonly associated with Computer Vision Syndrome you will need to take some steps:

  1. ensure proper lighting
  2. reduce glare on the computer screen
  3. establish correct working distances between you and the computer screen
  4. having good posture for that for ergonomic computer viewing
  5. make sure that even minor vision issues given attention and correction

Causes

Looking at a computer screen for extended periods of time can cause a person’s eye to work harder than they normally would. Therefore many people see the the development of vision-related symptoms.

There is a real difference between looking at a computer screen and looking at a printed page. Because the written words on the computer screen are not quite as precise and hand written and there is a lack of variation, also that the level of contrast is less in addition to the possible reflections or glare off of the screen may make viewing more difficult.

The viewing distances and angles that are used for general computer related work are usually very different from those most people use for reading or writing tasks. As a result, the vision system (mostly the eye focusing and eye movement requirements) can be stressed by the increased demands being made upon it during periods of computer work.

It is also good to note that if a person has even a slight vision problem it can have a negative affect on that person’s comfort and performance at a computer. If there are any uncorrected or undercorrected eyesight issues they have the potential of being significant contributing factors to computer-related eyestrain.

People in Northern Colorado who have eyeglasses or who use contacts may find that they are not the right correction for the short distance between the glasses or lenses and the computer screen. Some people (unknowingly) try tilting their heads at odd angles because their glasses aren’t designed for the up close work like working at a computer. Or they find that they are bending toward the computer screen in so that they can see it clearly. The odd postures that they put themselves in can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder or back.

In most cases in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, symptoms of CVS occur because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform them. People who spend 2 or more hours per day at the computer have the largest risk for developing CVS.

Diagnosis

Here in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, a comprehensive eye exam is needed to be able to correctly diagnose the Computer Vision Syndrome. There is special testing with an emphasis on the visual requirements at the computer working distance which may include going through your patient history to see if there are any symptoms that you, the patient are dealing with. During this test we would also see if there are any general health problems, medications taken, or environmental factors that might be contributing to the symptoms related to computer use.

Your visual acuity measurements will be assessed to see to what the extent your vision might be affected. A refraction will be conducted to calculate the proper lens power necessary to correct any refractive errors that may be present (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism).

We will also be testing to see how well your eyes focus, move and team (work together). The only way to have a clear and correct solitary image of whatever is being viewed is to have eyes that change focus, move and have proper team work. All of this testing will search for issues that relate to any problems related to the teaming or focusing of your eyes.

All of this testing may be done without the use of eye drops to to help us calculate how well the eyes are doing under normal conditions. There are some cases in Northern Colorado such as when some of the eye’s focusing power may be hidden, where eye drops may be used. These eye drops would temporarily inhibit the eyes from changing focus while we conduct our testing.

After the testing is complete we will then use these results, along with results of other tests, to determine if you have Computer Vision Syndrome and advise you on treatment options.

Treatment

In Northern Colorado there is a variety of solutions to computer-related vision problems. However, CVS can and is usually cured by obtaining regular eye care and making changes in how you view the computer screen, changing the lighting in the surrounding and maintaining proper posture.

Eye Care

There are some people in Northern Colorado do not normally use eyeglasses during throughout their day, however they may benefit from a prescription of glasses or contacts for computer use. People have also found that if they wear glasses already, their prescription may not be correct for computer usage and they need a different prescription for computer use.

For some people in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley lenses prescribed to be up to the task of the unique visual demands of computer viewing may be what is necessary. Today we have special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings which might aid in maximizing the visual abilities and comfort of the prescribed correction.

Still, some computer users experience problems with eye focusing or eye coordination which aren’t able to be fully corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. For these cases a schedule of vision therapy might be an excellent option in the treatment of these specific problems. Vision therapy, (also called visual training) is a program constructed of visual activities prescribed to improve the eye’s visual capabilities. In this program your eyes would be trained together with your brain so that the two would work together more efficiently. The various eye exercises that would be prescribed would aid in restoring some deficiencies in eye movement, eye focusing and eye teaming and may help to reinforce the eye-brain connection and communication. Some of the treatments would most likely involve office-based exercises and home training procedures and follow up exercises.

Viewing the Computer

A few of the main factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to do with the computer itself and how you use it. In Northern colorado this would include the lighting conditions, your chair comfort and level of ergonomics, the location of reference materials, the position and height of the computer monitor, and the use and frequency of rest breaks.

  • Location of computer screen – We have seen that for most people, the best level of viewing a computer screen is when the your eyes are looking downward. For the most comfortable benefits position the computer screen about 15 to 20 degrees below your eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from your eyes.
  • Reference materials – Any of these materials should be kept above the keyboard and below the monitor. If that position is not possible, there are many document holders which may be purchased to be used beside the monitor. The goal of all of this is to position the documents so you do not need to move your head to look from the document to the screen.
  • Lighting – This is a really important one! First you will want to make sure to position the computer screen so that it avoids any glare, specifically from overhead lighting or windows. If you need to use blinds or drapes on windows then do so. We have also found that replacing the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage helps as well.
  • Anti-glare screens – If for whatever reason, you have no way to minimize the glare from your present light sources, then consider using a screen glare filter. These wonderful little filters really aid in decreasing the amount of light that is reflecting off of the screen and into your line of sight.
  • Seating position – Your chair should be comfortably padded (if you sit in the chair for more than 2 hours make sure that your chair is designed for that amount of usage – it really does matter) and conforms to the body. The height of the chair should be able to be altered so that your feet can rest flat on the floor (this will help improve your overall posture while being seated). If the chair has arms rests, these should be able to be adjusted to the right height to provide arm support while you are typing and to prevent strain. Your wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard when typing; if you spend more than two hours a day at the computer an ergonomic keyboard is a very worthwhile investment.
  • Rest breaks – Here in Northern Colorado in order to prevent eyestrain, you might try brief periods of resting your eyes when using the computer for long periods. During these short times of “eye breaks” rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus. This practice is mirroring the eyesight patterns of our farming and hunting ancestors for thousands of years and they generally had much better eyesight than our modern cultures do today!
  • Blinking – A good practice to have in place here in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley to help minimize your the development of dry eye when using a computer, is tomake an effort to blink more frequently. The very act of blinking as simple as it is ensures that the front surface of your eye remains moistened.

Having a regular eye examination and correct viewing practices when at the computer can aid in preventing or reducing the development of the symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call 970-204-4020 or click on the link on the side of the page.