Computer Vision Syndrome

What is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?

Computers are now an integral part of our day.
This advancement of science has brought about a vast change in our lives that we wonder what life would have been without it! With all its benefits come certain health related issues, awareness of which is minimal.

The the shift from PAPER to COMPUTERS has been so rapid and strong that the eye has not adapted to the new demands put on it to work at NEAR in a new visual environment for extensive hours and in stressful environments.

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a complex of eye and vision problems related to near work which are experienced during or related to computer use.

CVS is characterized by visual symptoms which result from interaction with a computer display or its environment.

The chief culprit being a Repetitive Stress Injury to the visual system which means, rectifying the source of stress is overlooked.

Near work here refers to the use of all the self illuminating PCs, mobile phones, and the latest gadgets that have helped bring the web world and quick computation to our hands.

What are the common symptoms of CVS?

The most common symptoms are

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty in changing focus between far and near
  • Dryness of eyes
  • Irritated eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Redness
  • Contact lens discomfort

Neck, shoulder and backache can also be related to the way we use our eyes at the computer.

What causes CVS?

There are several contributory factors for Computer Vision Syndrome to develop.

  • Uncorrected spectacle power
  • Inappropriate glasses for computer use
  • Difficulty in eye coordination at near work
  • Strain on the muscles of the eye due to work style
  • Decreased blink rate or tear function
  • Glare and reflections from the monitor and surroundings
  • Poor workstation setup or improper use of workstation
  • Job nature and stress
Who can be affected by CVS?

Work at the computer for more than 3 hours a day

  • Have strain at computer work.
  • Experience any or all of the symptoms of CVS stated
  • Experience stressful situations associated with work
Is there any age limit for CVS?

CVS can occur in any age group but children are found to report less of symptoms.
This does not indicate that children are not prone to CVS, but that they continue to strain the visual system and the condition is overlooked to a greater extent than adults.

Can proper glass power be a solution to CVS?

There is no single type of computer glasses that fits all or is the best for everyone.

A pair of computer glasses should include:

  • The prescription measured at the computer working distance
  • The appropriate lens type for the patient
  • A tint where required
  • An anti-reflective (AR) coating

The spectacle alone does not address a myriad of other problems the eye can face at the computer due to CVS.

How can it be detected?

CVS is often different from other typical eye problems.

The usual ophthalmic examination focuses more on distance vision (6 m and beyond) and near vision (35 to 40 cm), whereas the computer professionals have a unique working distances with respect to the monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

How can it be detected?
  • Refractive error correction for computer workstations
  • Evaluation of arrangement of the computer workstation
  • Evaluation of lighting and reflections
  • Eye health evaluation
  • Analysis of visual functions at near working distances

A detailed clinical evaluation, besides a thorough documentation of the work surroundings and job nature with the help of questionnaires and interactive sessions are essential for this.

What is the best way to treat CVS?

There are three phases in the management of CVS when you seek professional help

  • Detection
  • Management
  • Follow-up

The best way to treat CVS is to identify the conditions that have contributed to the symptoms and address them.

The earlier the condition is detected the more it acts as a preventive measure.

Ideal ocular status and proper ergonomics both visual and environmental could keep the condition under check. Management is minimal and modifications become the answer. The frequency of follow-up is also reduced as the condition is easily reversible.

Can it be prevented?

Yes. CVS can be prevented.

The first step towards prevention is to be aware.
CVS sets in often due to the assumption that mild discomfort is inevitable at computer work. The early signs are overlooked and this gives way to stronger problems.

 

  • Awareness of what is ideal for the eye and visual system to work comfortably is thus the first step. The web is a great source of information for this awareness. But improper use of the information and poor understanding of the intricate visual process can often lead to more discomfort than we could tell. Awareness alone, again, does not solve the problem.

 

  • An evaluation can give us an answer to the reason for the difficulties, Strict adherence to the rules to fitness of the eye is as important as the care given to the management of systemic diseases. No one knows better about the effect of eye strain and discomfort on the quality of work than one who has been affected by it. One has to just look around to see the real picture. The confusion, the tension and the nervous wreck one becomes when the strain goes to your head cannot be far from the eyes.
What can be the negative effects of CVS?

Poor visual functions

  • Increased stress levels
  • Reduced effective work hours
  • Frequent absence from work
  • Possible increase in errors
  • Less time available for personal care and reversal

which together spell …. “Reduced productivity”

When should I get myself tested for CVS?

The ideal time for a CVS evaluation at the CVS Clinic would be at the beginning of ones career which involves extensive computer work. An evaluation would help detect problems in the eye which would get worse with improper computer use. These when rectified would reduce the intensity of discomfort with long hours of computer work.

If this has not been possible the best time is- any time one learns about CVS or has its symptoms.

  • Ergonomic evaluations – Assessment of workplace ergonomics with recommendations for organizations for computer work and workstations
  • Annual CVS check – Regular CVS evaluation of employees of institutions that have incorporated eye health care in their regular health care protocol in the IT industry etc
When should I get myself tested for CVS?

The ideal time for a CVS evaluation at the CVS Clinic would be at the beginning of ones career which involves extensive computer work. An evaluation would help detect problems in the eye which would get worse with improper computer use. These when rectified would reduce the intensity of discomfort with long hours of computer work. If this has not been possible the best time is- any time one learns about CVS or has its symptoms.

How frequently will I have to visit the clinic?

The follow-up with the clinic would depend on how good the condition of your eye or your workstation is.

If only basic changes are required a review would be required after 2-3 weeks to verify if you are comfortable. And then review after a year for a routine evaluation.

A review evaluation is required every year for anyone who works at near as the demand on the visual system is high as we age and prevention is the best way to reduce damage as the work demands never reduce.