Computer Vision Syndrome

Young women holding forehead with her hand looking at laptop screenIn the age of electronic devices and our dependence on them – whether it’s a digital screen belonging to a laptop, desktop, tablet, smart phone or smart watch – Computer Vision Syndrome is more common than ever. The condition, often temporary, results from focusing your eyes on one of those digital devises for an extended, uninterrupted period of time.

The results from being hyper-focused on a digital screen can vary from blurred vision and headaches to eyestrain and dry eyes.

Dr. Larry Malashock, one of six optometrists at Malbar Vision, explains: “When you concentrate and look at a computer screen, you don’t blink much, hardly at all. And if you have to get your work done, you’re just going to keep at it.

“Remember, you have to focus at about 30 inches or so on that computer screen, which takes work. And as we mature, our eyes just don’t do that as well,” says Dr. Malashock.

The most common result of staring at a computer screen for an extended period of time is temporary blurred vision. Malbar Vision doctors often treat children who have blurred vision from starring at a digital device too long. They experience blurred vision when trying to focus on objects in the distance, as if they’re nearsighted. The issue is that their eyes are focused intensely up close and they have problems refocusing.

“Like muscle cramps, so to speak,” Dr. Malashock says. “Kids have incredibly strong focusing mechanisms and they can stare at a screen up close for long periods, but when they look up they may have blurred vision far away. So how you undo it? You just hold things further back. You get the eyes to relax, and usually their distance vision clears up without glasses.”

However, some people may experience continued blurred distance vision, even after they stop starring at a computer or smartphone screen. And when that happens, it’s best to visit with an optometrist.

People who have eyeglasses or contacts may have issues working at a computer, too. Some may tilt their heads, or bend toward the screens, because their glasses aren’t designed for viewing a digital screen for extended periods of time. In addition, their postures can result in muscle cramps in the neck, shoulder or back.

Reducing glare on the device’s screen, sitting at proper working distances and adjusting your posture can help reduce blurred vision. So, too, can taking short breaks. But if blurred vision persists, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with your optometrist.