OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Tim Fredriksen, OD

Eyestrain and your Computer

By Tim Fredriksen, OD

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is the name applied to a condition that affects a large percentage of computer users. CVS describes a complex of eye and vision problems related to near work during computer use. The relatively broad list of symptoms and possible diagnoses contribute to the challenges in providing appropriate care for individuals with CVS. These symptoms include eyestrain, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue, dry eyes, irritated eyes, light sensitivity, headache, neckache and backache.

Damage is not being caused to the eyes, but considerable discomfort and decreased work performance may result from CVS. Many CVS problems are either caused or exacerbated by ergonomic factors such as glare from lighting, reflections in the display, poor display quality, inappropriate work arrangement, or postural issues.

Treatment begins with a thorough eye examination to rule out vision or eye abnormalities. This should include visual performance at your near working distance. Possible treatments include correcting focusing and binocular vision disorders, computer glasses, treatment of dry eye, and assessment and counseling regarding workplace ergonomics.

One way to alleviate eyestrain is to take a break from looking at the Video Display Terminal (VDT). The eyes are in a constant state of focus while looking at the display and material on the desktop. About every twenty to thirty minutes of near vision, one should focus the eyes on an image as far away as possible for a few minutes, or maybe walk away and get a drink of water. This should allow the focusing system in the eyes to relax and stop strain from occurring.

Removing reflections and glare from the VDT is another way to help. A tip to find the glare source is to place a mirror on the VDT. The light causing the glare should now be reflected in the mirror. Adjust the angle and rotation of the VDT to eliminate or minimize the glare. Reflections can also be reduced by an anti-reflective overlay if adjusting the VDT does not help. Mixed results are obtained from tinting eyeglasses. Some individuals benefit and some do not. The color of the tint also varies from one individual to another.

With proper care and counseling, most CVS sufferers should be able to alleviate their symptoms.


Eye strain, Blurred vision,
Double vision, Fatigue
Dry eyes, Irritated eyes
Light sensitivity, Headache
Neckache & Backache


Use proper vision correction
Take frequent breaks
Reduce glare
Adjust VDT brightness/contrast to a comfortable level
Use good posture

For more information, call Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic>715.834.8471