Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. The eye discomfort and vision problems experienced when viewing digital screens for extended periods are commonly referred to as “digital eye strain.” In addition to digital eye strain, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) also includes the ergonomic impacts of prolonged screen use.


The most common symptoms associated with CVS, including digital eye strain, are:
  • Eye strain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain
Causes & Risk Factors

The unique characteristics and high visual demands of digital screen viewing can contribute to the development of CVS. Viewing a computer or digital screen is different from reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult. Viewing distances and angles are also often different from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for digital screen viewing can place additional demands on the visual system.

In addition to those who spend at least 2 hours on a digital device, individuals with uncorrected or under-corrected vision problems may be at greater risk of developing CVS. Even prescription eyeglass or contact lens wearers may experience symptoms due to the specific viewing distances of their computer screen. Some people tilt their heads at odd angles because their glasses aren't designed to look at a computer or bend toward the screen to see it clearly. Their postures can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder, or back.


Solutions to digital screen-related vision problems are varied. However, they can usually be alleviated by obtaining regular eye care and changing how the screen is viewed. Glasses explicitly prescribed for computer use may help current prescription eyeglass wearers and those who do not need eyeglasses for daily activities. Unique lens designs, lens powers, or coatings may help maximize visual abilities and comfort.

Proper body positioning for computer use can help prevent or reduce the symptoms of CVS. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, the position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.
Also see tips to combat digital eye strain.

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