These days, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. That can put a real strain on your eyes. Many of us spend most of our waking life staring at a computer screen. But this isn’t good news for our eyesight. Here, we explain the effects of computer use on eye health and vision and what you can do to mitigate the damage.

Eye problems caused by computer use fall under the heading computer vision syndrome (CVS). It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and pain. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms. Working adults aren’t the only ones affected. Kids who stare at tablets or use computers during the day at school can have issues, too, especially if the lighting and their posture are less than ideal.

CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries you might get at work. It happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over. And it can get worse the longer you continue the movement. When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. They move back and forth as you read. You may have to look down at papers and then back up to type. Your eyes react to changing images on the screen to create so your brain can process what you’re seeing. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare.

You’re more likely to have problems if you already have eye trouble, if you need glasses but don’t have them, or if you wear the wrong prescription for computer use. While cutting down dramatically on screen use may be the ideal remedy for strained eyes, it’s not practical for people with desk-based occupations. There are, however, many practical steps you can take to reduce the effects of computer use on eye health and vision. Set an alarm every 20 minutes to give your eyes a break. Take a walk across the room and back to correct poor posture at the same time. Screen glare can cause eye strain, but good lighting can help reduce the effects. Adjust the contrast settings on your computer monitor so that the screen feels comfortable to look at. Remove anything that causes glare, such as desk lights, and position your screen so that it isn’t directly in front of or behind a window. If you have an untreated existing eye problem like myopia or hypermetropia, computer use is likely to worsen the effects. Regular eye tests will uncover any vision problems and ensure that your eyes are treated with the appropriate prescription. Specially designed spectacles can dramatically reduce the effects of computer use on eye health and vision. Helping the eye to focus on the screen without strain, your computer glasses may have a different prescription from reading glasses, because the object of your focus is a different distance away. Computer glasses can also have anti-reflective coatings and even tinted lenses to help reduce glare.


by: Ammara Siddique