Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is now recognised as an "occupational illness" that afflicts people working on computer screens for extended hours of time.
With the advent of "smart phones" the screen has shrunk in size and the CVS has assumed proportions of a "Pandemic" and is no longer restricted to IT professionals alone! Let us try to establish a connection between different variables that interact in this complex situation:
- Screen size and illumination vary from flat screen monitors to laptops to tablets to smart phones. Background illumination.
- Font size is variable to a significant extent as also the background colour and contrast.
- There are pictures, movie clips, animation clips, geometrical designs of different shapes that need quick processing by brain.
- Ergonomics of an office/work place or household.
- The distance at which a screen is held.
From office the CVS has invaded households and now every family member is at risk including household helpers!
Thus CVS is caused by interaction of several factors- small screen, small font size, fast moving images on a small screen, strong illumination of screen, bad posture, poor background illumination. A smart phone can be carried any where and young adults who get hitched to it can carry it to their bed and peer at the screen without regular blinking in any posture, close to face for an indefinite time.
Symptoms of CVS are non specific but nagging and annoying:
Watering of eyes, irritation, burning sensation, brow-ache, headache, deep ache in the head, tiredness, lack of freshness, redness of eyes etc. There are posture related symptoms also such as neck stiffness, pain in the neck, back stiffness and pain etc.
All the symptoms are exaggerated by lack of quality sleep, inadequate rest, lack of breaks during work, anxiety etc.
Management is simple-
- ergonomic setting up of computer screens/laptops in the offices.
- Periodic breaks for relaxation.
- Open areas in offices for fresh air and relaxation from focusing at near distance.
- Lubrication of eyes with preservative free artificial tear eye drops, rolling of eyes and blinking completely a couple of times.
- Stretching exercises for neck and back under supervision.
- Avoid smoking and excessive consumption of tea/coffee under misconception of freshening up.
- Watching television or a movie after a long day is no relaxation for eyes, in fact it is additional stress.
- Play outdoor games instead. Tablets and smart phones use should be curtailed, at least for watching movies, serials, matches etc.
- Increase font size for a comfortable reading.
- Do not take tablets and mobiles to bed and keep them away from bedside for charging as well.
Good habits, disciplined life style with regular exercise and balanced diet helps in keeping CVS away.