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What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?

What Is Computer Vision Syndrome?

These days, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. That can put a real strain on your eyes.

Eye problems that caused by computer use is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is defined as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use (American Optometric Association, 2007). It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and pain. In Malaysia, a study done by the by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) showed that 61.4% of workers who used computers in their workplace complained of lower back pain, shoulder and neck pain, while 70.6% of them complained of eyestrain which are all related to CVS (Loh et al., 2008). A cross-sectional study was carried out in 10 randomly selected faculties in University Putra Malaysia (UPM). A total of 146 permanent administrative staffs that worked with computer at least 3 hours per day, 92 (63%) of the respondents had CVS (Zainuddin & Isa 2014). Although it has not been proven that computer work causes permanent eye damage, it may cause temporary discomfort which in turn may reduce productivity, causes lost work time and reduces job satisfaction.


How Do Computers Affect Vision?

Computer Vision Syndrome happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over. It can get worse the longer you continue the movement, and later may develop eye strain, pain and headache.

When you work at a computer, your eyes have to focus and refocus all the time. They move back and forth as you read. All these jobs require a lot of effort from your eye muscles. And to make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare.

You’re more likely to have problems if you already have eye trouble, if you need glasses but don't have them, or if you wear the wrong prescription for computer use.

Computer work gets harder as you age and the lenses in your eyes becomes less flexible. Somewhere around age 40, your ability to focus on near and far objects will start to go away. Your eye doctor will call this condition presbyopia.


What Are the Symptoms?

Prolonged and continuous of computer usage can lead to eye strain and discomfort.

You may notice:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Headaches
  • Neck or back pain

If you don’t do anything about them, it could affect more than your eyes. You could also have issues with your work performance.


How Is It Treated?

A few simple changes to your workspace can improve your symptoms and prevent new problems:

Cut the glare. Change the lighting around you to reduce the effect on your computer screen. If light from a nearby window casts a glare, move your monitor and close the shades. You can also add a glare filter to your monitor.

Rearrange your desk. The best position for your monitor is slightly below eye level, about 20 to 28 inches away from your face (Photo 1). You shouldn't have to stretch your neck or strain your eyes to see what's on the screen. Put a stand next to your monitor and place any printed materials you're working from on it. That way, you won't have to look up at the screen and back down at the desk while you type.

Give your eyes a break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes or so and look at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Blink often to keep your eyes moist. If they feel dry and sore, try some eye drops.

Tweak your settings. You don't have to live with the factory-installed presets if you're uncomfortable. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and font size until you find what’s best for you.

Visit your eye doctor regularly for exams and to keep your prescriptions up to date. Let him know about any problems you have. You may need glasses or contact lenses if it is necessary based on your eye condition. He might prescribe a single or bifocal lens, or tinted lens material to boost contrast and filter out glare.



Photo 1: The correct body position when using a computer



American Optometric Association (AOA). (1995). The effects of computer use on eye health and vision. Retrieved August 2, 2006. http://www.aoa.org

Loh, K.Y. & Reddy, S.C., (2008). Understanding and preventing computer vision syndrome. Malaysian Family Physician, 3(3):128-130.

Zainuddin H., Isa M. M. (2014). Effect of Human and Technology Interaction: Computer Vision Syndrome among Administrative Staff in a Public University. International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology, 4(3): 39-44.


Prepared by:

Dr Arma Noor

Perkhidmatan Kesihatan Pekerjaan

Pusat Kesihatan Universiti

Universiti Putra Malaysia



Date of Input: 30/11/2019 | Updated: 30/11/2019 | izzatussofia


Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan