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Dr Janak Shah
Eye surgeon, Pediatric opthalmologist


Do you experience dry, burning eyes? Headaches that just will not go away? Are you sick of staring at the computer screen? Well you could be suffering from what the doctors call computer vision syndrome (CVS). CVS is a temporary condition caused using a computer or staring at a screen for a long time period. In this day and age where most people work on computers for long hours, it is a condition that ails most of the urban workforce. We talked to Dr Prakash Nayak, an expert ophthalmologist about the issue.

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition that affects your eye and vision and is everpresent in today’s urban population who spend all days on their laptops or computers. Your eyes have to work a lot harder when you view the computer screen. Working on computers have exceptional characteristics and is visually demanding that make individuals susceptible to various vision-related conditions. CVS presents visual symptoms, which may be temporary and disappear with resting your eyes; however, if you do not seek treatment, these symptoms may worsen with time.[1]

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Some common symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and pain around the neck–shoulder region. Other symptoms are double vision, discomfort in your eyes, fatigue, and itching in your eye, eye redness, and eye tearing. Usually, the symptoms are temporary and disappear after one ceases to use the computer; however, some symptoms may continue for a longer time. [2,3]

Causes And Risk Factors


There is a difference between reading a printed page and viewing a computer screen. This difference exists as the letters on the computer screen are less defined and not as sharp as those in print. Moreover, the contrast between the letters and background is less and the glare and reflections from the screen make it difficult to view and read print on a screen. Different distances and angles result in aggravating the issue. Even minor vision problems can turn into major ones because of protracted computer use. The specific viewing distances that exist when viewing a computer screen may be unsuitable even for those who already have prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. In fact, along with eye conditions, the posture we use while using laptops can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder or back.

Some causes contributing to computer vision syndrome are listed below.

  • Poor lighting

  • Glare from the screen

  • Improper distance between you and screen

  • Poor seating posture

  • Lack of correction of any vision problems

  • Combination of several of the abovementioned factors

  • Lack of blinking when reading computer print can cause dry eyes, which can be a

causative factor for digital eye strain.[2]

Risk Factors

Almost everyone who works in an office works on computers. People who spend two or more continuous hours in front of the screen are at a greater risk of developing CVS.

Some of the risk factors for computer vision syndrome are listed below:

  • Exceeding a time limit of >2 h a day on a computer

  • Close distance between you and your computer

  • Using a poor angle while viewing your screen

  • Using a bad posture while on your computer

  • Having minor eye problems that you may leave uncorrected

  • Having glasses with a wrong number

  • Avoiding taking breaks when using the computer

  • Have dry eye, which worsens CVS

  • Certain medications such as antihistamines (medicines used mostly for treating allergies) increase your risk of dry eye

  • Having certain diseases such as autoimmune (your own immune system attacks your body) diseases or thyroid diseases can increase your risk of dry eyes, contributing to CVS.[3]


CVS can be kept at bay by following a few simple precautions. If symptoms persist, one should contact a professional ophthalmologist. The prevention of CVS can be performed by environmental modifications and self-care of eyes, and the following measures can be undertaken to prevent CVS.

Environmental modifications

Lighting - Use a glare reduction filter to minimize glare of your computer. Reduce blue light using special lens tints and coatings. Using drapes, blinds, or shades, or repositioning your screen can help to adjust the amount of light falling on your screen. Cleaning your screen can help decrease glare and improve the clarity of your screen.

Positioning - Improving the workstation and physical ergonomics to increase comfort can prevent musculoskeletal problems.

Distance - Distance of at least 35–40 in from your screen should be maintained.


Take breaks after working for >2 h at a time on the computer, and get an opinion from an optometrist if you have recurrent symptoms

The application of lubricating eye fluid and artificial tears can be applied to your eyes to treat dry eyes if advised by your doctor

You should check your eyes if you have a computer-related job, to identify and treat any eye-related issues

Use corrective glasses if advised by your doctor to avoid deterioration of your eye symptoms.

If you suffer from any medical conditions such as diabetes or eye diseases, you should approach your ophthalmologist at the earliest to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.[1,2]


Initially, your detailed examination will be taken to identify your symptoms, health issues, if any, any medications that you are taking or any other factors that may be causing your CVS symptoms.

A visual acuity test may be performed to identify how much of your vision has been affected.

Refractive testing may be conducted to identify what lens power you may require. Comprehensive eye testing that will involve checking how your eyes work together and focus. Your doctor may use a device called an ophthalmoscope to view the back of your eye.

In certain cases, your doctor may advise some blood tests, if you have any disease contributing to your CVS.

Other conditions that are listed below may mimic the CVS symptoms.

  • Refractive errors

  • Dry eye syndrome

  • Blepharitis (inflammation of your eyelids)

  • Allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation or infection of the membrane that covers your

eyes and eyelids)

  • Lagophthalmos (incomplete ability to close your eyelids)

  • Presbyopia (gradual loss in your ability to focus on objects that are nearby) [2,3,4]


There are many things that are within your control that can be performed to avoid computer vision syndrome. You can wear zero power (if you do not have corrective glasses) anti-glare glasses or use an anti-glare screen. Blinking constantly helps too because it replenishes the tear film in the eye. If you do have dry eyes, you can use artificial tears. Taking frequent breaks is advisable to prevent eye strain. Ideally, you should take a 15 min break for every 2h you use the computer. Some other things you can do include placing the computer screen at a comfortable angle (15°–20°below eye-level as measured from the centre of the screen).

Seating position and posture is equally important. You can sit on a comfortable chair with an adjustable back and keep your feet on the floor.

In certain cases, specially designed lenses, lens tints, or coatings may be advised to suit the screen and enhance your comfort and visual abilities.

If eyeglasses or lenses do not solve the CVS problem, vision therapy program may be required. In this program, which is called visual training, a set of activities to enhance your visual abilities will be provided. These activities help to train your eyes and brain to work effectively in a co-ordinated manner. These activities involve eye exercises to help improve focusing of your eyes, correct any deficiencies in your movement of your eyes, and reinforcing your eye–brain connectivity and co-ordination.[2,3]


Certain steps to modify your lifestyle and environment can be followed to protect your eyes from computer vision syndrome, which are listed below.

  • Blinking regularly when working for prolonged periods on the computer

  • Increasing the moisture or humidity in the air when at home or at work, particularly when using the computer

  • Wear sunglasses that cover your entire eye, especially when outdoors to protect your eyes from the sun and dry winds

  • Consuming nutritional supplements that are rich in essential fatty acids as they can help improve your eye health. You should consult your doctor before starting any supplements

  • Increase your fluid intake to ~8–10 glasses of water per day and avoid becoming dehydrated.[5]

Do's & Don’ts


  • Do limit your screen time

  • Do avoid glare from the computer

  • Do get your eyes checked regularly, especially if you have a computer-related job

  • Do blink often especially when staring at the computer for long time periods

  • Do rest your eyes for at least 15 min after working for 2 h on the computer

  • Do follow the 20-20-20 rule when using the computer. This indicates that after 20

min of work, you should look 20 feet away at an object for 20 s.

  • Do adjust your viewing angle such that any reference material and your computer screen is ~4–5 in below your eye level

  • Do adjust your computer screen to avoid any glare from falling on the screen


  • Don’t stare at the screen for an extremely long time

  • Don’t work on the computer in very bright or dimly lit environment [6]

  • What to eat & What not to eat

Orange, yellow, and green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants and beneficial for your eye health and preventing CVS. These foods contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are proven to help maintain your visual performance during prolonged periods of computer work and avoid eye strain and eye squinting.[7]

Prognosis And Complications


Usually, the symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome are temporary and disappear with rest and when you stop using the screen. However, if you fail to act on these symptoms of CVS, your eye symptoms may worsen, leading to decreased visual acuity even after stopping screen usage. This can lead to the worsening of eye symptoms and additional eye-related complications.[5]


Computer vision syndrome may cause the following complications

  • Tired eyes

  • Sensitivity to bright light

  • Blurry vision

  • Irritated or burning eyes

  • Difficulty in focusing and then refocusing at varied distances

  • Lack of quality sleep

  • Keratitis (inflammation of your cornea, the part that covers your pupil and iris)

  • Superficial punctuate keratitis (inflammation of the cornea because of multiple reasons)

  • Optical decentration in the eye glasses (incorrect placement of your eye lenses in your spectacles).[4,5]


  1. Lo KY, et al. Malays Fam Physician. 2008;3(3):128-130.

  2. Computer Vision Syndrome. AOA. Available at: (

  3. Computer Vision Syndrome. Cedars Sinai. Available at: (

  4. Computer Vision Syndrome. The Eye Practice. Available at: (

  1. Computer Vision Syndrome. Health Jade. Available at: (

  2. 6 Tips to Help Combat Computer Vision Syndrome. Cleveland Clinic. Available at: (

  3. Eating to See- Vision, Screen time and Nutrition. Nutri-Facts. Available at: (


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