Computer Vision Syndrome and Digital Eye Strain Explained

Computer vision syndrome is also known as digital eye strain. This belongs to the group of eye and vision-related problems that stems from extensive screen time on digital devices. Long hours of staring at smartphones, laptops, tablets, and e-readers usually result in digital eye strain which could cause eye discomfort and vision problems.


Common symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or Digital Eye Strain are:

  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • eye discomfort
  • dry eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms may be associated with:

  • screen glares
  • poor light source
  • incorrect viewing distances
  • improper seating posture
  • uncorrected vision problems

Farsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, myopia, and other uncorrected vision problems can all contribute to developing digital eye strain. Most symptoms of digital eye strain often go away on their own after taking a break from digital devices.

However, some cases may have continued reduced visual abilities. This may include blurred distance vision even after stepping away from device screens. If visual problems are further neglected, these symptoms will worsen and recur with future digital screen use.


The blue light, glares, and radiation can make your eyes vulnerable to eye strain because the eyes tend to work harder as it focuses on digital screens. Computer screens and smartphones have generally smaller text sizes than normal which require high visual demands. With extended hours staring on these devices, individuals are then susceptible to the development of vision-related symptoms.

Uncorrected vision problems could also increase the severity of CVS or digital eye strain symptoms, especially when viewing screens too close or too far from your eyes. Misfit glasses that require you to tilt your head or neck to see better makes it a major contributing factor to muscle spasm, eye movement problems, and eye focusing difficulties.

In short, CVS or digital eye strain usually occurs because the visual demands of the task on digital screens exceed the visual abilities of an individual to comfortably perform them.


Through a comprehensive eye examination emphasizing on visual requirements at the digital device working distance, CVS can be diagnosed.

  • Patient history to determine any presence of uncorrected vision problems, medications taken, and environmental factors that may be affecting symptoms.
  • Visual acuity measurements to examine the degree to which vision may be compromised and to determine the appropriate lens power for the corrective glasses.
  • Testing eye coordination to ascertain how the eyes focus and move together. This test will help diagnose difficulties in eye function.


There are varying solutions to treat digital screen-related vision problems. The symptoms can usually be alleviated by getting regular eye care and making proper changes in how you view the screen.

You may also have to follow eye exercises to allow your eyes to rest throughout the day. Medical experts advise following the 20-20-20 rule to avoid digital eye strain. This means you have to take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Eye Care

Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses alone may not be able to provide adequate protection for higher visual demands when working on your computer. Special lens powers, designs, tints, or coatings may help maximize visual abilities and comfort.

Vision therapy, also termed visual training, could also help in improving visual abilities especially when you are tasked to work in front of your computer for long hours. This program trains the eyes and brain to work simultaneously and more effectively. Exercises included in this therapy help remediate deficiencies in eye movement, focusing, and reinforcing the eye-brain connection.

Proper Viewing Distance

CVS may be worsened with improper posture or environmental factors especially when using the laptop or desktop. This includes light sources, computer position, chair distance from your workspace, and insufficient rest breaks.

  • Lighting conditions. Reduce screen glares by positioning the monitor away from overhead lighting or windows. Try using a screen glare filter to decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Screen position – Optimally, the screen must be 4 to5 inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes to provide more comfort. Reference materials such as documents should be located just below or beside the monitor to avoid reaching over to look from the screen to the documents.
  • Seating posture – Chairs should conform to the body with comfortable paddings and adjusted height where feet could rest flat on the floor. ed and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair has an armrest, make sure that it provides ample arm support to avoid putting all the weight of your hands on the keyboard while typing.
  • Rest breaks – To avoid eyestrain, rest your eyes in between work hours for at least 15 minutes with two-hour intervals. Follow the 20-20-20 rule and do not forget to blink frequently to minimize the chances of dry eyes.

Remember to visit your doctor for regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits that can help prevent or decrease the risks of developing computer vision syndrome and experiencing digital eye strains symptoms.

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